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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent
This is one of the best crime novels I've ever read. It might make you cry; cheer; feel angry; thrilled; and exhausted. It will certainly not leave you unmoved. For those who just want action, then there is hardly a chapter without action. For those who want an interesting and intelligent read, it is that as well. It is like a cross between 'The Godfather' and 'American...
Published on 6 Aug. 2007 by Kasablanka

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Mexico drugs fast paced thriller
Quick read but too many abbreviations for all the drug agencies and law enforcement agencies. Could have done with less of them.
Published 5 months ago by Mrs Denise Barnes


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, 6 Aug. 2007
This review is from: The Power Of The Dog (Paperback)
This is one of the best crime novels I've ever read. It might make you cry; cheer; feel angry; thrilled; and exhausted. It will certainly not leave you unmoved. For those who just want action, then there is hardly a chapter without action. For those who want an interesting and intelligent read, it is that as well. It is like a cross between 'The Godfather' and 'American Tabloid'.

The core of the story is the crusade of Art Keller, an American-Hispanic DEA agent, against the Barrera family, Mexican drug barons, who he meets as a young man at the beginning of his career, is initially friendly with, but soon becomes their dedicated enemy. The fight between them lasts nearly thirty years.

It is also a tale of political expediency; cynical pragmatism and corruption.
The Mexican government feels it cannot afford to crack down on the drug trade; The American government have their own agenda in South America, in their fight against communism; and the Catholic church wants a way back into Mexico. So the result is a deadly minefield for anyone who dares to try to do some good.

There are five main characters, whose lives criss cross over the years. Art Keller, the constant outsider, who understands the mentality of the barrio;Adan Barrera, who, rather like Michael Corleone, in the Godfather, turns to 'the dark side' after a brutal act of violence against him and wants into the family business; Father Juan Parada, the decent, brave priest who always speaks his mind; Nora Hayden, the call girl with a heart; and, Sean Callan, the hitman who wants out, but keeps being dragged back in. There are many more great characters.

I raced to the end of this book and was sorry I had finished it.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply outstanding, 6 Aug. 2006
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G. Fergus "jollyjambo" (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Power Of The Dog (Paperback)
The story of 40 years of history as seen through the eyes of two men on either side of the drugs trade. It will open your mind and should seriously make you question aspects of American Foreign policy and the truth behind the War on Drugs. Full of amazing characters and beautifully written.

Absolute quality that is difficult to put down. Do yourself a favour and read this book.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Power of the Novel, 20 Nov. 2006
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This review is from: The Power Of The Dog (Paperback)
With 'The Power of the Dog', Don Winslow has written one of the best books I have ever read. It tells the story of the Mexican drug trade through the 70s to present day. Not only do you get Mexican gangsters, but also the Italian Mafia, Irish, Cubans, corrupt Mexican cops, covert CIA ops and the DEA.

This rich brew of characters and influences makes the book both action packed and riveting to read. The novel has four major characters that drive the plot forward over 30 years and also has plenty of supporting characters who have differing fates.

Winslow does not shy away from the violence of the drug trade and also seems to have researched very well giving the book an informed feel. The characters are fantastic; Winslow makes all of them three dimensional so even the nicest character may get sucked into evil. The style of writing and story itself is excellent throughout and will leave you gripped.

Read this book.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, 9 Nov. 2006
This review is from: The Power Of The Dog (Paperback)
Wow - this book has jumped straight to the top of my favourites list. It has it all - drugs, sex, violence, politics, religion. It has Mexican drug cartels, Italian and Irish Mafia, veteran DEA and CIA agents, hookers and priests, communist guerrillas and high-level government cover-ups. Its like a cross between Scarface and Killing Pablo, charting the rise of the fictional Barrera brothers from street hoodlums to billionaire drug lords, and the catalogue of torture and killing left in their wake. Central to this is the obsessive DEA agent Art Keller, who pulls out all the stops to bring them down, battling the bandits and his own conscience as he discovers the truth about the real war on drugs.

Every chapter has a running gun battle, an interrogation scene, a double-crossing or a brutal murder. At times it even feels like there's too much action, but this doesn't detract from the gripping and complex plot. It's huge in scope, spanning 30 years and several countries, interlinking different characters and organisations and playing them off against each other, keeping us guessing until its bloody conclusion.

Wimslow's prose is great, eloquent enough but sprinkled with street slang and gangster-speak. No flowery language, just straight to the point and hard as nails. The violence is shocking and frequent (torture scenes leave little to the imagination). This is undoubtedly a blokes' book, a testosterone-packed powerhouse of a novel, and certainly not for the faint-hearted.

My favourite book used to be The Godfather. Not any more. Power of the Dog is even better, and as the front cover states, a future classic.

Essential reading. 5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TOUR DE FORCE, 28 April 2010
This review is from: The Power Of The Dog (Paperback)
Make no mistake: this book is addictive and will be giving you flashbacks for years to come. An outstanding novel, reminiscent of James Ellroy and George Pelecanos at their brutal and best. The story details the lengths that drug barons are willing to go to make money, and some of their exploits are gut wrenchingly sad. One particular scene with two yound children and a high bridge will remain in my memory for a long time. Reading this book was like getting slapped in the face and awakening to a new reality. If this book doesn't deserve 5 stars then nothing does. Read it if you like Ellroy, Pelecanos, James Lee Burke, Peter Straub, John Connolly, Michael Connelly, Lawrence Block, Wambaugh, Westlake. This novel should be subtitled 'TOUR DE FORCE'.
ACTON
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliance, 25 April 2006
By 
G. Miller "commonman12" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Power Of The Dog (Hardcover)
A stunning piece of work. Rewarding on every level.
Immerse yourself in the history of the 'Mexican Trampoline' as drugs make their way from South America, through Mexico and into the US. Believeable characters, well drawn, travel through decades and watch their own part in this history of drugs and cocaine and USA involvement in South America and...

Well the list is endless - it has pace, real drama and tension. Some parts are jaw dropping in their intensity and brutality but never gratuitous.

All his other books are great - this should push him to classic writer status - up there with Ellroy in my estimations.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gory Brew, 25 July 2006
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This review is from: The Power Of The Dog (Paperback)
This is a cracker of a novel, ambitious in its scope and multi-layered in plot and characterisation. It's quite retro in it's subject matter, recalling the days of Nicaragua, the Sandinistas, the Cold War communists, the American Mafia and then throws the Irish, the Neo-cons, the Mexican banditos and even Opus Dei into the mix. The plot thunders along and the violence levels are acute, recalling the worst excesses of James Ellroy or James Lee Burke and sometimes verging toward horror as opposed to crime fiction. But it's well-written stuff and the author is able to carry it off, managing to shock and disturb the reader into considering what really did go on with the Right Wing Death Squads in Central America, never mind drugs and the Columbians. The only weak part of the novel was found in the female characters who I found to be a bit one-dimensional in the uber-macho world created. Apart from that, this is a great read and I too will be reading more of this author's output in future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome, 6 July 2006
This review is from: The Power Of The Dog (Paperback)
Not since Ellroy's American Tabloid or Mailer's Harlot's Ghost has an author got into the dealings of the US in Central America like this. This book works on so many levels: its a brilliant thriller, its a great study of organised crime and it lifts the lid on some incredible goings on. Winslow writes brilliantly, forcing you to sympathise with a succession of vile characters. The violence is shocking, particularly one scene involving a bridge, I will say no more. It grips from page one through to the end. I was left feeling empty, partly because its a draining read and partly because I knew nothing I subsequently read could match it. Drop everything and read this one now, its a stunner.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic?, 22 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: The Power Of The Dog (Paperback)
I like Don Winslow. I like his quirky, literary mind, his enthusiasm for Peregrine Pickle, Cuchulain, and his understanding of the influence these fabled characters have on his allegedly untogether but self-effacing heroes like the redoubtable Neal Carey, and in this novel, Callan.

Aside from "The Power of the Dog", my favourite is his first, "A Cool Breeze on the Underground", in which Carey messes with London punks and holes up in the Lake District. Winslow is a Yank, but seems to know Britain quite well. His second book evidences a decent knowledge of China, and his third and fourth seem at home in the mid-west.

I understand "The Power of the Dog" took him six years to research. Some say it is not really fiction, and at many points it reveals a comprehensive understanding of the history of the whole of Central America over a thirty year span. In particular showing how your nice cuddly Ronald Reagan, among others, terrorised a whole region of the world in the interests of protecting the USA from Communism, as he thought. Personally I've never read anything that has made me think Communism as such was ever going to take a hold in that region, just farmers trying to make a living.

I have read several nonfictional accounts of recent history in Central America and at no point does "The Power of the Dog" make me think, `Oh, he's gone way off here.'

Perhaps it is easier to construct a dynamite plot which doesn't creak at the hinges when it is all based on reality.

Either way it is up there with Stone's film "Salvador" as a brilliant fictional treatment of the dark underbelly of US Imperialism.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Fake it?" "It's easy," she said, "I do it all the time.", 4 Jan. 2011
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Power Of The Dog (Paperback)
This is a real block-buster of a book about the Mexican-USA drug business - it will give you, in detail, more than you could possibly hope to encompass by any other means, about the drugs cartels and the DEA's/CIA's fight against them - a film couldn't do the detail, for instance. This book is about death, violence, betrayal, on a Shakespearean scale. It is a savage book with some fantastic set-pieces that are gripping and visceral - perhaps more so than you really want to read. In fact you probably won't read this book unless you are of a strong stomach with a liking for realism. Though it's hyper-realism in many ways and the tide of blood is a disturbingly ever-present given.

There is a long cast-list, but the main characters - one on each side - are Art Keller (CIA) and Billy Callan (Drugs Gang), though neither are at the top of their game in the beginning, both are working their way onwards to the admirably ironic and ambiguous finale. Don Winslow has peopled this world with great skill and it should not be thought that they are either infallible or that they don't possess empathy, just because they happen to be drug dealers or CIA. This is a story about human wants and needs - about human failings most of all. The story about to unfold is also about the Church, about South American politics, about the drugs lords and the men who try to stop them. This is a book that does not stop at the torture-chamber door. It is not about drug addicts, except peripherally. This is, perhaps the book's one failure, that it does not show where drugs lead or the effect the trade has on the people who take them. But to be practical, that would be a different book.

I found it un-put-downable; dark, violent, tremendously moving and angry, with its own kind of skewed integrity and gravitas. It is an impressive achievement, but is definitely not for the faint-hearted.
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The Power Of The Dog
The Power Of The Dog by Don Winslow (Paperback - 27 April 2006)
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