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BLOW: How a Small-Town Boy Made $100 Million with the Medellin Cocaine Cartel and Lost It All Paperback – March 21, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

The up-your-nose, in-your-face life of George Jung, the high-school football star from small-town USA who became the American linchpin of the Colombian cocaine connection. Relying on extensive interviews with Jung and other key figures, Porter (Journalism/Brooklyn College) recounts a sleigh- ride-to-hell story of how 60's hippie innocence turned into 80's megadepravity. Porter dwells too long on Jung's unexceptional childhood (poor grades, risk-taking, shaky family life) but picks up steam when his subject comes of age--as a likable, handsome, well-muscled hedonist--and takes off for California and a haze of sunbathing, sex, pot, and LSD. Soon enough, Jung becomes chief marijuana importer to a number of prestigious East Coast colleges. Likening himself to Butch Cassidy, he moves his operation to Mexico and makes a mint until a series of busts stops him--temporarily. In prison, Jung befriends a young Carlos Lehder and links up with the Medell¡n coke cartel. The money bandied about is staggering: The Colombian suppliers gross $35 billion a year, and Jung buys a house just to stash his cash (lining floors and walls with $100 bills): ``Money, Learjets, fast cars, wild women, houses with maids,'' is how he recalls it later. Inevitably, the roller-coaster hits the steep downward slope: paranoia, as Jung snorts mountains of coke; a heart attack in his mid-30s; a car-bomb attack by Lehder, by now a business enemy; scary trips to Colombia, during one of which Jung watched coke czar Pablo Escobar execute a police informer; a flurry of arrests and escapes; finally, the Big Bust. But, as always, Jung comes out unscathed, turning state's witness (with Escobar's approval) to sing against Lehder. Set scot-free in exchange for his testimony, Jung now works in a legit delivery service, transporting fish up and down Cape Cod. How a happy hippie blew it on blow--finely researched, told with pizzazz. (Illustrations) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Extraordinarily interesting...Mr. Porter has done an excellent job telling the tale of a very unusual entrepreneur.” ―The New York Times Book Review

“The story belongs to anyone who has ever savored a well-told tale of adventure, greed, deceit, and revenge. Best of all, it's true.” ―Houston Chronicle

“A sleigh-ride-to-hell story of how '60s hippie innocence turned into '80s megadepravity...finely researched, told with pizzazz.” ―Kirkus Reviews


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Revised edition (March 21, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312267126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312267124
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #667,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 43 people found the following review helpful By R. Spell VINE VOICE on May 8, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book after seeing the movie "Blow". The movie was average but the subject matter was something I wanted to explore after seeing George Jung's picture at the end. I was not disappointed. I couldn't put the book down and throughly enjoyed it.
As all biographies do, the initial setup of his formative years is somewhat boring and can be skimmed. Bad student, played football. Nothing else is relevant. But when the book overlays living in Los Angeles in the 60's with the drug trade, this book really heats up. Jung reminds me of Forrest Gump. Always in a place where drug history was happening. Particularly where his old grass connection is the key to establishing him as a major player in the new cocaine business.
The book and the movie have many similar points but many different ones. For example, in the movie, his first stewardess girlfriend dies. But in the book, there is no mention of when and how they split up. In the movie, he misses his daughter and wants contact. There is no mention of that in the book.
The book really projects that Jung in the right business at the right time. But he's not really a smart guy. The movie covers some of his busts correctly but the Cape Cod bust that starts his downfall is almost unbelievable how stupid he could be. Read the book to find this bizarre fact.
As a earlier reviewer who identified himself as a former drug runner stated, using your own product clouds your judgement and clearly that applied to Jung. Irrespective, this book gives great insight into the drug traffic business and shows what a bizarre environment it was. Somewhat like the Wild West. Read this book for entertainment value as it reads quickly and is very informative.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Roy on November 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed reading this book. It is a true story of the rise & fall of George Jung. George became involved with smuggling pot in from Mexico in the 1960's & went on to become one of the founding members of the Colombian Cocaine Cartel led by Pablo Escobar. Geogre intially was Pablo's MAJOR U.S. cocaine distributor, was the one link Pablo had to the U.S. cocaine distribution network. Another Colombian, Carlos Ledher, stole George's U.S. connections, & cut him out of the business. George then basically married into a Colombian family, and started moving smaller cocaine contract loads through a relative by marriage-Humberto. Humberto was connected to Pablo Escobar.
This book is well written, and also tells a bit about drugs, their cultivation, the human physiology of drug interactions, and how basic smuggling operations are established. It is also just a plain good story. I thought the ending was a bit sad though.
To clear up the question of: "Is George free, or in Prison". George was free, and delivering seafood to restaurants in Massachusetts. He subsequently got busted smuggling pot from Mexico, and received a 22 year jail sentence in 1993-1994, and is currtely in prison at Otisville, New York.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By John on August 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
Aware that the movie is only loosely based on a true story, I turned to this book for a more factual account of the rise and fall of George Jung. But Jung's own account of the execution he witnessed on the Escobar ranch, to pick an example, differs as much from the one in this book as from the movie!

By page four I knew this wasn't secretly penned by Truman Capote. It is vulgar and loaded with malapropisms, for example: the word "obviate" is repeatedly used where "eliminate" is intended. Evidently no one at Harper Collins knows what the word means. "Secrete" is used for "secret." There are stretches long enough that I was able to get into the read before pausing to wonder what was meant by a non sequitur or a sentence that is not a sentence, but a slight effort by a copy editor or high school English teacher would have greatly improved the work. The editors and "fact checker" should all be serving time for criminal negligence. Terrible job.

Carlos Lehder is portrayed as a reckless megalomaniac brazen enough to unabashedly ramp up his smuggling through Norman's Cay to full tilt --really taking it to another level-- seemingly without regard for how much attention it would draw; indiscretion ultimately did the cartel in. There are interesting tales of boaters being chased away from the island, including a retired Walter Cronkite! Once a boat was found adrift in that vicinity, spattered with blood.

Surprisingly, considering the vast differences between this book and the movie, the fight scene with Mirtha driving up the I-95 one night actually did occur.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
Those interested in learning about the disparate personalities largely responsible for the cocaine avalanche that washed over America need only read this excellent book and Mark Bowden's equally fascinating work of non-fiction titled "Killing Pablo."
In "Blow", we laugh at the ordeals of George Jung and company as they grow rich exploiting America's burgeoning drug market while being chased, indicted, and jailed by inept and unsophisticated law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. In "Killing Pablo", we shudder over the actions of the world's (formerly) most ruthless drug lord who held Colombia hostage through rewards and ruthless punishment aptly termed "plata o plomo" (silver or lead).
Porter and Bowden performed exhaustive research on their respective protagonists and produced rousing narratives. Two of the finest works of non-fiction - of any topic - I've ever read.
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