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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars well researched
This is a biography of the life of drug king Pablo Escobar. The writer has clearly got some inside story as to his life as it is very detailed (probably too detailed regarding his early life which does drag on far too long). However, if you stick with it, it does give a fantastic insight into Pablo's early years, what formed him and Columbia's recent history...
Published on 11 Mar 2007 by J. Mellor

versus
1.0 out of 5 stars Show me the proof!
Dull but I think that this was it was so poorly researched; few footnotes or appendices. I understand if people's identities have to remain secret, but throughout the book I had no idea whether what the writer was saying was truth or speculation. No 'fact' appeared to be attributable except to the author himself - I do like a little confirmation of the veracity of an...
Published 1 month ago by The 3 Hares


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars well researched, 11 Mar 2007
By 
J. Mellor "stayleyvegas" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a biography of the life of drug king Pablo Escobar. The writer has clearly got some inside story as to his life as it is very detailed (probably too detailed regarding his early life which does drag on far too long). However, if you stick with it, it does give a fantastic insight into Pablo's early years, what formed him and Columbia's recent history.

It also describes the Colombian and US Govts attempts to bring him to justice and the time he spent in prison which was more of a five start hotel, run by his staff and even the prison guards were on his payroll. It also exposes the illegal, covert US operation (and the manipulation of several US laws) to bring Escobar to book, culminating in his assassination on 1992.

Escobar comes across as a very intelligent man, bit of a modern day Robin Hood to some extent and you are rooting for him at times until you realise the death and destruction he brought to the world.

A well researched book that is certainly worth a read.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How does a civilised society deal with an uncivilised enemy?, 2 Mar 2004
By 
Andrew Kerr "Alabony" (Dunfermline, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This is an excellent book.
I particularly liked the way that Bowden took the time at the beginning of the book to explain the recent history of Colombia, and how Pablo came to grow up in such an incredibly violent country. It put everything into perspective for me as I read further into the book.
Mark Bowden touches on several sensitive areas in the book. For example, the premise that came to mean death for Pablo - that a civilised society cannot be seen to allow a man like him to live in such luxury. This meant that the American and Colombian governments co-operated closely to ensure that Escobar would not escape. It also meant that Ronnie Reagan had to bend several laws governing US involvement in another country's troubles, so that US intelligence officals could help track Escobar.
He very nearly did escape on several occasions, though. And this is what Bowden uses to keep you on the edge of your seat. You get a very real impression of just how powerful, resourceful and cruel Pablo was. And you also get a real feeling for how hopeless the job of the Colombian police was - with Pablo one step ahead of them all along.
There's even a twist of sorts - as Bowden explains the quirk of fortune that allows the police to catch him at last.
Superb book - well researched and well constructed to maintain the suspense.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You couldn't make it up., 30 April 2008
By 
J. Duducu (Ruislip) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a tightly written and compelling thriller which just happens to be true. Putting Pablo Escobar into the wider context of Columbian history helps explain not only how he can justify his activities but why he was so beloved by so many people.

The overall arc of the war (and that's no exaggeration) between Pablo and the Columbian state is gripping stuff. It's also interesting how so many common people were willing to believe his lies. However it's the incidental details that really bring things to life, the interviewees asked to recount key moments mean they are told with crystal clarity. Not all of them are vital to the narrative but they add a whole new understanding of Pablo himself, an example would be his extremely infantile attitude to women. The stand out story there being getting naked models to race to a sports car- first one to get there keeps the car! Only too much money and power leads to that sort of degradation.

This is a fascinating account of how to deal with the chimera of drugs in society and how there are no simple answers to anything in Colombia.

If you liked this there's more historical debate and fun at @HistoryGems on Facebook and Twitter
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 30 Oct 2001
By A Customer
An avid reader of many of these types of books, the author really manages to place you in the scene, as if you too were on the hunt for Pablo. Unlike "spycatcher" the talk of radio monitoring is kept interesting and will make you amazed at what one can do with a cell phone.
Brilliantly planned and executed, well done Mark Bowden!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Surely a film soon?, 10 Jun 2009
By 
chuckles "barnie884" (Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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For me, this is not normally the sort of book that I read, but the back cover pulled me in and I felt it sounded interesting. That I have to say is an understatement.... this book was a fascinating insight into a criminal we all have heard of, but was probably not as big news in Europe as in the US, so a lot of this was new for me. This book gives a great insight into the background of the time and the criminal activity in Columbia, how Pablo rose from nothing to the legend that he became. It also sheds light into much of the undercover activities that go on behind the scenes, often without the leaders of the nations knowing about it. It also goes to show what can be achieved if you have money and influence. I for one never realised the extent of his riches and power. My one criticism is that it reads very much like a history channel documentary, fascinating but not gripping in the same way as a novel. Maybe that is because I am not used to this type of book. However if all history teachers could teach as well as Mark Bowden does in this book, we would all be graduating from university with honours. This for me is crying out to be dramatised and made into a film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting read from cover-to-cover, 5 Oct 2011
The 4 and 5 star reviews convinced me to try the book and I'm happy I did. Without going into details that might spoil the book or to repeat what other's have said, I'll simply say that it's an exciting read and I was completely captivated by it.

It's all about Escobar, his upbringing, his power and influence and his eventual downfall. Historical context is provided in just the right measures, but Bowden never goes off tangent as the book isn't about that, it serves to simply provide a better understanding of the country and what it was going through at the time. I found the whole account fascinating. If this is anything to go by then I think I'll buy Bowden's other book, Black Hawk Down, as well.

If I have one criticism to make it's that the quoted passages in the book (from letters, cables, etc.) appeared in smaller type whereas I would have preferred a different typeface or something else so I didn't have to squint. Other than that, no problems with the book, it's superb!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and about as in-depth as you wil see, 11 May 2002
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Excellent background and unbelieveable story of the worlds richest coke dealer to-date. With 5 billion in the bank El Padrino weaved a tale of immesurable violence against the people who saught to capture him, with his charasmatic personallity and ability to scare the bejeebers out of all and sundry (including WHOLE goverments) -Mark Bowden captures the electrically charged atmoshphere between the goverments of Columbia and the USA who between them spent millions in $$'s and thousands of lives in 'killing Pablo'.
This is fantastically reseached and well written account of a tale of power absolute, corruption and the will of man who thought he could buy the country that sired him - he wanted to be respected!. It is mainly involved in the actual 'chase', 'inprisonment', 'escape', 'chase' and finally 'death' of one of the most powerful men in modern society. A must read from cover to cover. Enthrallingly in-depth.
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4.0 out of 5 stars very good read, 2 Dec 2007
This is a very good read told at a brisk pace. I came away feeling that Pablo was a bit of a tragic figure, with plenty of bad as well as plenty of good in him, mixed in with a very heavy dose of ambition fueling his rise to the top of the drug world. For all of the bad things Pablo seems to have done, I found it very sad and even tragic to see him hunted down and shot to death in the end. Colonel Martinez, Pablo's nemesis, comes across as an interesting and strong person who you also care about. As some critics have noted, perhaps the book should have been written by a Colombian, who would have greater familiarity with the subject matter, but Bowden seems to have done a very good and objective job of telling the story. Author of Adjust Your Brain: A Practical Theory for Maximizing Mental Health.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, and very difficult to put down., 19 Jun 2001
By A Customer
I found this book very hard to put down not least because it totally captures the essence and feeling of what a powerful drug cocaine can be, and its very far reaching affects. Mark Bowden has truly researched this topic, and although you wonder how someone like Mr Bowden gained access to such confidential material, it is all the better for it, as it gives the reader a very vivid picture of what a powerful, interesting, but highly dangerous man Pablo Escobar was. The only criticism I found with the book, was that in relation to the families, even though they are mentioned briefly, not much is said about how they felt about all of these events, and whether being strong catholics they consoled these occurences with their faith. Having said that however the book is a must read and one that should not be missed at any cost.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Show me the proof!, 10 Nov 2014
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This review is from: Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the Richest, Most Powerful Criminal in History (Kindle Edition)
Dull but I think that this was it was so poorly researched; few footnotes or appendices. I understand if people's identities have to remain secret, but throughout the book I had no idea whether what the writer was saying was truth or speculation. No 'fact' appeared to be attributable except to the author himself - I do like a little confirmation of the veracity of an author's claims. Very disappointing and I won't buy any other book by this author.
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