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El Narco: The Bloody Rise of Mexican Drug Cartels Paperback – 17 Jan 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (17 Jan. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408822431
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408822432
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Grillo's clear-eyed, sobering account has authority and a flair for colourful anecdotes, making for disturbing but riveting reading (Metro)

A superb report form the front lines of narco-violence (Independent)

[A] shining example of dogged, impassioned and courageous reporting ... compelling ... his pace is furious, like driving at top speed along a wild mountain track in a pickup and there is no doubting his expertise, his compassion or his grit (Daily Express)

It is hard enough to report the facts of Mexico's crazy death spiral of drug violence. Ioan Grillo goes much, much deeper. He explains why El Narco threatens the soul of this beautiful country. He tells us how we got here (William Booth, bureau chief for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean Washington Post)

A fascinating and terrifying account (Sydney Morning Herald)

Heartbreaking ... El Narco is a fine work of journalism (Irish Times)

Remarkable (Houston Chronicle)

Puts a human face on the bloodshed (Boston Globe)

Book Description

The gripping account of the out-of-control drug wars that have brought chaos to Mexico- and are now spilling into the United States.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bought this as a holiday read. I struggled to get into the book mainly because there is so much detail and so many characters involved. There is no disputing that the book is incredibly well researched, but what let it down for me is the very dry writing style. Rather than chapters, it felt like the book was a series of academic papers. There are so many characters involved in the drug cartels and this book touches on many hundreds of them. Consequently the book lurches around a lot. I didn't think there was a coherent story tying everything and everyone together.

If you're into reading about the drugs war in Latin America then you'll no doubt purchase the book. If you're wanting to get a quick overview and an introduction to the topic then this isn't the right book for you.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you really want to know how the diabolical situation that exists on America's southern border began and is currently perpetrated, then I suggest you read this excellently researched book. Powerful and evocative, this book brings together the hopelessness and defenselessness of the Mexican people... the poorest,as usual, suffering the most. We are talking about a heinous and unstoppable barbaric criminal insurgency, uncontrolled and with the overt complicity of the state - the like and scale of which has never been known in a western 'democracy'. This book should serve as both a warning and a wake up call to the USA, (and the rest of the first world) that globalisation is not limited to big business. The USA bears the greatest responsibility for this threat to democracy, due to its blinkered self interests and its pandering to its bible thumping classes. Legalise recreational drugs, ban the selling of assault weapons and deprive these cartels their oxygen. Prohibition does NOT work. WAKE UP!
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By Bort on 11 Mar. 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Given the remarkable access the author seems to have had to the Mexican underworld, it's a shame this isn't a better book. Despite its dramatic subject matter, it manages to come across as somewhat dull, and towards the end of the book the events and characters begin to all sound the same.

In addition to some typos and misused words, the use of slang is jarring (if you're going to regularly use 'cranium' instead of 'head' you could at least get the pluralisation correct), and the occasional attempts at evocative metaphor fall flat. I tend to feel strongly about finishing books when I start them, but I ended up not bothering with the last two chapters of this out of sheer indifference.
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Format: Paperback
This is the sort of book I have been really keen to read for a long time; an explanation of the history behind these current events is so important. Having the facts laid out in such a clear way, and with a constant reminder that this is a human (and as such universal) story it provides a really good basis for a serious debate.

Such as the one I had with my Uncle, Aunt and cousins during a christmas dinner in London. All participants had an entrenched point of view. While I do not think anyone succeeded in changing the position of the other, I was able to share some history and context with my relatives.

The story told within is a real one, but given the subject matter it reads like a hollywood movie. It is a gratuituous and glamourous world. One that beggars belief and shocks. I was compelled to keep reading at the same time as being repelled by the horrible people and actions described.

For me, the bottom-line is that this story goes beyond drugs and actually reveals how humanity is incapable of embracing multiple points of view, and ways of life. The hypocrisy exposed is sickening. Drug-dealers, bankers, law-enforcers, politicians- the list of power abused with impunity is part of daily life.

Mexico's cartels reflect the market economics that also make Wal-Mart so successful. The added-value lies with the distributor. The manufacturers of the product are exploited as much as possible. The final client is sold as much product as the distributor can get away with. The 'brand-value' is a clever way of selling high for the lowest quality the market will bear.

At the very least, the legalisation of these drugs would deliver transparency across the supply-chain and we can begin to start holding all aspects accountable.
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By tallmanbaby TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 26 Jun. 2016
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a challenging read. It must be the War and Peace of the Mexican Drugs trade. Split into three parts, history, anatomy and destiny, it describes and analyses the trade.

At one point the author claims that he has tried to read everything ever written on the subject, and at times it is more like taking a university course just reading a book. The initial part on the history of the drugs trade is probably too detailed, but it is worth persevering through to the remaining sections. The trade is far more pervasive and complex than you might think.

The benefits of having a journalist write this are that he is not putting forward a simplistic explanation, to some extent America is complicit in this catastrophe, and even those heavily involved in the trade are given a sympathetic hearing. It is the personal stories that carry the real emotional heft. While it is depressing to hear of tens of thousands of deaths, hearing about a mother losing her son is absolutely gut wrenching.

This is a detailed and sober account of the devastating impact of a new type of war.
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