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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
A truly fascinating and at times unbelievable book about a British drug smuggler who was caught and sent to a Bolivian prison.
I am not a big book reader and it usually takes me weeks to get through a book, but I read this in 2 days on holiday, which annoyed my girlfriend no end.
A must read!!!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 3 December 2003
I never finished reading any book in that short amount of time, I've read this book just in two days and I got completely blown up.You get read and discover yourself the extraordinary character Thomas Mcfadden and inside world of San Pedro,It's really amazing book.It's worth buying.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2008
An insight into one of the most fascinating though thoroughly grim prisons in the world. Its hard to take in what you're reading, knowing it actually happens in a prison. I have moral issues with Thomas, though as a survivor nobody can fault his sheer stamina and drive to better himself in the face of well, some hell of an adversity within prison life. This book offers a truly insightful view of a world a million miles away, totally beyond our own comprehension.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2010
I must say I was not keen after reading the blurb; drugs are not the sort of thing I am interested in. However, this book is nothing about drugs. It was very good, written in a very conversational style and fast paced. Sometimes, I found myself thinking whether everything he has written is in fact true, but it must be. I could not believe he was allowed out to go to the movies and go clubbing. The book made me think about taking cocaine. Lol, but I won't. I was left wondering what Thomas McFadden is up to, now that he has been released.

It was very good and I am glad I read it; goes to show it does not hurt to try something new. Apparently, a movie is to be released and Brad Pitt's production company is holding the rights at the moment.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 5 August 2007
Since finishing this book (a fortnight ago) it has been passed on to three of my friends all of whom have found it an amazing read. Having grown up in South America I'm very aware of the corruption that takes place, but I was still completely dumb-struck by the activities of San Pedro prison. My feelings towards Tomas are slightly mixed, while I admire his survival instincts and business accument I can't forget the fact that he is guilty of his crime and hasn't apeared to have learned anything about the effects of drug trafficking/taking. Read it and see for yourself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 August 2003
Ok, im one of those people who will start a book and either never get it finished or it will take me ages to finish it.. i finished marching powder in 3 days, i could not put it down. It is such an amazing story and the book never gets boring. i would recommend this book to anyone who likes stories about how bizzare the real world can be, it does get a little disturbing in some parts and there is a hell of alot of drug use. an awesome book, i was actually a bit upset when i finished because i have to find something else to do with my spare time now.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 5 July 2003
This book, written by first time author Rusty Young, gives an absolutely rivetting account of life for a british drug-smuggler in what must be one of the most corrupt prisons in the world (not only do inmates have to buy their cell as if they are buying an apartment, they even have to pay an entry fee on first arrival). The book, although actually a biography which is written in the form of an autobiography, combines humour, horror and romance and introduces the reader into the fascinating life of a drug-smuggler, user and convivt and also the truly incredulous corruption found at just about every level in Bolivia to provide a thrilling read. I couldn't put it down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 November 2013
This isnt what i would call a thrilling read, its not full of twists and turns nor is it dripping of suspense. However, it is profoundly interesting and shocking account of the Bolivian prison system. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, following Thomas' journey inside the prison and feeling dumbfounded when new facts about the prison are discovered. A really enjoyable read that is a must for anyone planning on visiting Bolivia and even for those who dont plan on actually going there, after you read this is will probably make you want to go so you can see for yourself!
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on 22 September 2012
Just finishing up this, and as I professional editor and travel writer I can say that it's very skillfully written, aside from the eye-opening content. Rusty Young does a fantastic job of ghost writing Thomas's experience, where you feel for the poor chap, and get to know him as if you were one of the travellers who toured the prison and spent a night partying with McFadden. The dialogue, recollection and succinct telling of it is a mark of a pro, I'd be interested to see more from Rusty Young, though I sense Thomas is quite a character himself.

Some web research reveals that perhaps a few things were bent in order to avoid spoiling a good story. Someone suggested Thomas was South Africa, though he gets UK consular support and likely had a foot in both countries, but a Black person from South Africa with a Scottish name is unlikely unless he was adopted. Still, it's the sort of novel you pick up and then hardly put down until it's finished, easy to follow, engaging, fascinating, funny, sad.

They are making a movie about it now, but I can't find out any further details about the fate of Thomas, keeping low key I imagine, if that was ever his real name.

Put it this way, it was recommended to me by the owner of a second hand book shop on the traveller's trail in Thailand and he had ordered a whole box of them from the publisher, so they obvious sell like hotcakes.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 13 December 2004
It's a kinda Bolivian version of the book 'The damage is done'. Although life inside San Pedro prison is somewhat different in many ways.. Money talks! Inmates buy and sell their own cells, manufacture coke, bribe anyone to get whatever they need and make a little extra cash from backpackers tours of the prison.
Thomas McFadden is a convicted British drug dealer who lived here for 5years.
A truly fantastic read, and Rusty Young certainly takes you into the bizarre prison with every chapter..
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