- Hardcover: 640 pages
- Publisher: William Heinemann (25 Jun. 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 043402354X
- ISBN-13: 978-0434023547
- Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4 x 24 cm
- Average Customer Review: 199 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 234,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Cartel Hardcover – 25 Jun 2015
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"Don Winslow delivers his longest and finest novel yet in The Cartel. This is the War and Peace of dope-war books. Tense, brutal, wildly atmospheric, stunningly plotted, deeply etched. It’s got the jazz-dog feel of a shot of pure meth." (James Ellroy)
"Sensationally good, even after the near-perfection of The Power of the Dog. Less of a sequel than an integral part of a solid-gold whole." (Lee Child)
"The Cartel is a gut-punch of a novel. Big, ambitious, violent and widely entertaining, Don Winslow's latest is an absolute must-read." (Harlan Coben)
"Don Winslow is one of the most exciting and well-researched crime writers of modern times. The Cartel is a masterpiece of storytelling." (Simon Kernick)
"Astoundingly ambitious…Draws on real events and people as it chronicles Mexico’s drug wars…Masterfully organised and teeming with memorable characters, it is unlikely to be bettered this year." (Sunday Times (Thriller of the month))
"Don Winslow has done it again. The Cartel is a first rate edge-of-your-seat thriller for sure, but it also continues Winslow’s incisive reporting on the dangers and intricacies of the world we live in. There is no higher mark for a storyteller than to both educate and entertain. With Winslow these aspects are entwined like strands of DNA. He’s a master and this book proves it once again." (Michael Connelly)
"A magnum opus coming in June from Don Winslow, who is to the Mexican drug wars what James Ellroy is to L.A. Noir. It's a long-awaited sequel to one of his greatest, The Power of the Dog." (Janet Maslin New York Times)
"Ten years ago Don Winslow published The Power of the Dog, essentially the Godfather of the Mexican drug wars, an epic, blood-drenched tale of greed and murder. Now he’s returned with a sequel, The Cartel, which may well be the most relentlessly bleak and corpse-strewn crime novel ever written….Winslow brilliantly brings to life the savagery of the conflicts between rival cartels and also the heroism of the ordinary folk, mostly women, who dare to fight back. The Cartel is unforgettable and genuinely tragic." (Mail on Sunday (Thriller of the week))
"You don't have to read Don Winslow's The Power of the Dog to get swept away by The Cartel, its ripped-from-the-headlines sequel, but you should. You should try to get your hands on everything Winslow's written, because he's one of the best thriller writers on the planet. You've read the headlines about the decapitations in Juarez, the kidnappings in Mexico City, the mass graves and battling cartels and corrupt politicians and police, the daily casualties of the Mexican-American drugs wars, which made you second-guess that Club Med vacation. An epic, gritty south-of-the-border Godfather for this time." (Benjamin Percy Esquire)
"[A] riveting expose of a modern tragedy where the fast pace of the thriller narrative never stumbles over the painstaking attention paid to detail and background… his most powerful writing to date…As a reader, it's natural to want to immerse yourself again and again in the world Winslow depicts. But this, the author reminds us, is not wholly fiction: The Cartel is dedicated to a long but necessarily partial list of journalists murdered or "disappeared" during the period covered in the book…[Winslow is] a thriller writer of remarkable moral depth." (Sunday Herald)
The fast-paced and thrilling sequel to Don Winslow's epic drug novel, The Power of the Dog.See all Product description
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In a similar fashion to how James Ellroy's Underworld USA trilogy brought to life some of the less attractive sides of American society and politics, and in particular some aspects of the US involvement in Vietnam that I had never considered, these two books give a completely different perspective to the War on Drugs to that portrayed in the mainstream media. As such, they are convincing and important, and demonstrate that what is called "the War on Drugs" is a geopolitical pawn that has been moved differently around the chessboard by successive US administrations, but which rarely sets out to achieve what it says it is trying to. Both of the books are marked by the almost relentless violence that one shoudl probably expect from stories centred on drug lords, and the overall message seems to be that there is little if any hope that any war on drugs can ever be successful.
An astonishing tour de force with an enormous scope, these are essential books if you are seeking to understand a key problem in American society.
As advertised, 'The Cartel' continues the story of the blood feud between the DEA agent Art Keller and narco king, Aden Barrera but, as with its prequel, Winslow's novel is as much a story about corruption and its disastrous social and political consequences as it is a flat out thriller.
This is a book that will have you laughing, crying, and scared shitless in equal measure and I would challenge anybody to come away from these books thinking that America's often faux war on drugs is anything but completely nuts. How a supposed civilised society can completely ignore the supply side of the equation, jam their own jails full of people that clearly need help whilst turning their closest neighbour, Mexico, into what closely resembles a failed narco state, beggars belief !
The answer of course, is the irrational fear of communism that misguided the foreign policies of successive US administrations and which led to a disastrous situation that has turned places like Mexico's Juarez Valley into one of the deadliest places on earth, costing the lives of thousands of citizens who have been sucked into this vortex of violence and corruption and then murdered,often in the most horrible ways imaginable.
Winslow's highly literate two book story will tell you all about this and more but, at the end of the day what makes this work so fascinating is that, like all great works of fiction, it informs and entertains in equal measure and it will stay with you long after you turned the last page.
The only minor criticism I have is that these works would have been enhanced if they had both been published with glossaries showing who is who in the zoo and the inter-relationships between the different characters and their respective organisations. I say this because both books are jammed full of characters and organisations that have South American names or which are referred to by acronyms. Probably less of a problem for the American reader but a little confusing for us Europeans. That said, don't let anything put you off reading these books. Just go with the flow and enjoy.
The violence depicted in The Cartel is sickening but is never gratuitous or out of place. Don Winslow does not revel in explicit violence but doesn't shy away from telling the reader how bad the world of narcotics really is. The novel is obviously based on true events and feels like it was plucked from news headlines from real events. This book is one big crime scene that goes on for decades and across borders. The dialogue is excellent, as are the descriptions of how hard life is for the victims and ordinary people forced to live in towns and countries where life is cheap and wholesale random slaughter seems to be a way of life. The characters are well drawn out and the reader feels a sense of dread because trying to survive in the world of drugs is almost impossible. The fate of some of the characters feels well deserved whereas the fate of the innocents is heartrendingly sad and Winslow treats these with respect and care.
The pace of the novel is handled expertly and there isn't one boring sentence in the entire book. This is the first book in a long time that I really didn't want to end. It is informative and thrilling in equal measure.
The drug dealers and kingpins in the book are media savvy and come across as terrorists. In one scene one of them says: “What good is an atrocity if no one knows you did it?” In this way the book delves into 'The Wire' territory where reporters become central characters and are caught between warring cartels. Similarly the corrupt police are forced to choose between doing evil deeds or being wiped out themselves. There is never a black and white simple solution for the dilemmas these people face every day of their lives. Stay honest and you'll be dead within days. Bend to the dark will of the cartels and you have to figure out how to live with yourself. To me that is the central theme of the book: How to fight evil without losing your soul in the process.
There are two reasons this did not get 5 stars - i) it can get a bit repetitive, and you become as desensitized as the characters; ii) After so many hundreds of pages, the ending is almost indecently rushed - everything is tied up in what felt like a few pages (2% in Kindle terms).
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