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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 6 August 2007
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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on 20 October 2015
Sometimes you wonder why an absolute gem that would doubtless be enjoyed by millions of readers can remain a diamond in the rough for so long. The fact that this was published in 2005 and I've only just read it is a testimony to the difficulties that quality literature has breaking through in this crowded market.
It was the excellent reviews for his latest book, 'The Cartel', that lead me to its prequel 'The Power Of The Dog' and I have to say, I am completely and utterly knocked out by his work. It is a book that delivers on so many different levels. It informs, it entertains, it horrifies and at times it simply renders you speechless. Furthermore it is extremely well written.
How successive US administrations could be so misguided and corrupt with both their South American foreign policy and the entirely stupid war on drugs is laid bare in this absolute powerhouse of a thriller and this book should be compulsory reading for every US Foreign Secretary.
Wimslow takes one of the most important issues of our times and turns it into an absolute white knuckle ride of a thriller that will lead readers to understand completely why places like Juarez are the hell holes they are today.
The plot is intricate but the tension doesn't lapse for a moment as a tale that spans more than twenty years introduces you to a cast of characters who will in turn, make you laugh, cry and shudder with fear. There are no cardboard characters in Wimslow's opus. If Charles Dickens had been an American living on border with Mexico in the twenty-first century, this is the book he would have written.
Buy it now and make it number one in every best seller list. By God, it deserves it. Absolutely fabulous stuff.
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on 28 August 2016
Dark Dark Dark Powerful stuff. The story follows five ( or is it 6) main characters who initially are not connected but through circumstance and narrative all take part in the frantic story. It is a very violent novel and very poignant. The characters are well drawn and nothing is ever black or white. Although it is set in the drug underworld ( or is it overworld) the author manages to fill out the characters in excellent fashion. The 'good guys' are not that good: the bad guys have redeeming features ( well sort of).
I could not put this down, but a warning: if you are depressed or overly anxious, do not read this book. The all too plausible links between governments , big business and the drug cartels ( with all their violence) makes sober reflection. Still although it is very haunting, it is so well done that it is a must read.
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on 6 August 2006
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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on 9 November 2006
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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on 20 November 2006
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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on 25 April 2006
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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on 4 March 2016
This is a story so intense and ferocious that it almost leaps off the pages like a Pit Bull on steroids! Yes, it's that good. It's a powerful novel that intelligently traces the rise of the Mexican drug cartels as seen through the eyes of the five main characters: Art Keller, an obsessive DEA agent, Callan, an Irish hitman for the New York mob, Nora, a high-priced California call girl, Father Juan, a very influential Catholic priest, and one of the Mexican drug barons (who will remain nameless to avoid a plot spoiler).

Don Winslow is very good at distilling information and uses this skill to great effect here when describing the politics and intricacies relating to how America waged its War on drugs during the 70's, 80's and 90's. This may be a fictional account of that period but so much of the story is laced with hard truth.

Reading The Power of The Dog was an education in itself and an eye-opener to the violent and cynical reality of the drug dealing world. The nearest thing we get to a 'good guy' in the book is when we read about the life and exploits of Art Keller, a DEA agent who appears to make it his life-long quest to bring down the drug Cartels. But even such a stalwart as Art sometimes has to ask what on earth he is trying to accomplish. At one stage in the proceedings, Art ruminates over what exactly he and his fellow enforcers are attempting to achieve. He reaches the point where he can't decide whether the War on Drugs is an obscene absurdity or an absurd obscenity. In either case (thinks he), it's a tragic bloody farce with the emphasis on bloody.

Violence plays a big part in this book - so it's not for the faint of heart or the squeamish. And then there's the corruption. Oh boy, the corruption is rife! Within the narrative we quickly get to understand how the officials were 'got at' with no subtlety whatsoever. The drug lords would send out their 'lieutenants' who would simply go to the local Mexican Police Commandante or an Army Commander with a bag full cash and give the choice "plata o plomo" AKA "silver or lead".The meaning was clear - you can get rich or you can get dead, you choose. Most people chose rich!

This is one of those books that really got beneath my skin and contained a story that stayed with me long after I had finished it. In a word it was terrific and its a novel that I highly recommend.
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on 30 July 2016
This is not my usual genre, but I was drawn to it, having watched "Narcos" on Netflix. This book is 600+ pages of brilliance. Absorbing, chilling, and Winslow does an amazing job with the characters - painting a darker side to the hero's character, and a human side to the main baddie. So good, I bought the sequel.
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on 9 October 2006
Quite simply the best book that I have read in the last four years. It's as simple as that. This book captures you like an Ellroy story, yet it is told like a Lee-Burke. Buy it, you won't be disappointed! Trust me...
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