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I Am the Market: How to Smuggle Cocaine by the Ton, in Five Easy Lessons Hardcover – March 1, 2011

4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

If La Repubblica journalist Rastello�s account of today�s cocaine trade has an overly Italian bent, or if his central conceit often distracts�he tells the tale in the wise-guy voice of an apparent composite of smugglers he met�this is still a compelling, credible explanation of cocaine�s clout in the global economy, how and where it is produced, and how it is distributed. For anyone connected to the trade, creativity is key, from expanding the growing areas of the coca leaf to diabolical ways of transporting the drug (as a paste inside electric cable, or by soaking clothes in it for later removal) and moving the cash used to pay for it. There might be a wickedly vicarious thrill to reading this story, but Rastello�s narrator was caught in the end. More important, the trade as an issue can only be genuinely engaged when it is understood, and for that, readers have Rastello to thank. --Alan Moores

Review

“Darkly fascinating . . . this nameless coke-smuggling heavy has a jaundiced eye and a keen wit. I Am the Market is a glass-bottomed boat on what the Narrator calls a ‘sea of cocaine’ . . . Part Smithian-liberal treatise (if only the government wouldn't interfere . . . ), part Marxian analysis (the disenfranchised retaking the means of production . . . ), it presents an astute, jaded look at the political economy, in both macro and micro terms, of one of the world's most valuable substances.” —Brian Thomas Gallagher, The Observer

“Most of the people smuggling cocaine today don't even know they're doing it, especially if the cocaine has been disguised using one of the ingenious methods that The Market describes: dissolving powder in water and trapping it between panes of glass, for instance, or smearing it as paste over a consignment of fashionably crusty blue jeans . . . I Am the Market overflows with this kind of juicy tidbit. The notorious practice of having drug ‘mules’ swallow ovules of cocaine wrapped in condoms, he explains, is usually a diversion technique: While customs officers are posing on the evening news with half a kilo of product seized from some poor soul's intestines, the real shipment of maybe half a ton passes through the airport unmolested . . . Many of The Market's revelations will lend ammunition to anyone who thinks that the War on Drugs is a boneheaded exercise in waste and futility.” —Bruno Maddox, The Wall Street Journal

“Luca Rastello, a longtime observer of the criminal economy as a journalist and think-tank director, allows a very experienced Italian ‘sistemista’—a cagey contractor who transports tons of cocaine for cartels—to explain how it works. Rastello opens the book with a quick overview, and then hands the narration over to the unnamed sistemista. He is brilliant, and his voice, replete with all the bombast, ego, and lust for adventure one would expect of a globe-trotting career criminal, is what makes the book such a compelling and informative read.” —Jesse Singal, The Boston Globe

“A thrilling ride . . . The inside story on upper-tier cocaine smuggling is one that has been begging to be told. This one, the account of an anonymous smuggler known as Mr. Market, told to Italian journalist Luca Rastello, is brazen, defiant and brilliant.” —Tom Feiling, The Telegraph

“This is quite simply the best book about cocaine that we have read in the last ten years.” —Maxim

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Tra edition (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865479496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865479494
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,371,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read it on a nine hour plane flight, and it was very well suited to it. A relatively short book (I finished it inside 5 hours, but I read quickly), and not one that's overly taxing on the mind. It's full of good stories and anecdotes, and makes for light-hearted reading. Still a fascinating insight into a world totally hidden from the day-to-day lives that most of us live. The tone is very conversational, and it's almost like spending the whole plane ride talking to a fascinating person, a very "civilized" criminal, if that makes sense.

Unfortunately I didn't get spot-checked going through customs - I thought it'd make for a good laugh if I got spot-checked!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Interesting but a little "light" for my liking.

I was expecting a little bit more of "meat"

I bought it to use it as complementary material in my logistics course here in Bolivia (I don't think that it's necessary to mention Bolivia's place in the value chain for cocaine?). Some concepts/ideas where worthwhile but, with reality being what it is, it fell short.

Great as an introduction to the topic (I haven't been able to find any other source as complete as this book).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is extremely entertaining and once I picked it up I couldn't put it back down till the end. That being said, the book is more of a set of not-directly-related stories rather than an instruction manual or study of the drug-trafficking problems in the world today.

Entertainment aside, I am skeptical of some of the details in the book. The author is relating these stories from interviews he did with a former prisoner. Can a convicted drug smuggler be trusted to not embellish the stories he tells? Doubtful in my opinion. But then how much does he embellish in order to be entertaining? And does this really matter?

Again, the read is fun and I would not suggest taking any of it as precisely factual. My only other complaint is that the book is so short. Which is the complaint everyone has when they enjoy reading a good story.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a software engineer interested in unorthodox approaches to problems, I thought this book would provide insight into how drug dealers solve the problem of distributing their goods through highly unreliable channels. Unfortunately, the little information this book provided was obfuscated by bad writing, odd and poorly expressed political and social commentary, and a general lack of organization.

Readers not caring about gaining any practical knowledge but looking for an entertaining read will be disappointed by an almost stream-of-consciousness approach that might make even the most superficial reader lose interest. It is as if the author interviewed one or more individuals and merely concatenated their interview responses without doing any editing or reorganization.

I gave this book two stars because there were tidbits of interesting information throughout.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very down-to-earth synopsis of current geopolitical map in regard to drugs. It is a short vojage of a creative thinker in one of the most challenging form of market. Highly recommended for a nice leisure reading.
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