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Beyond Bogota: Diary of a Drug War Journalist in Colombia Hardcover – December 3, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (December 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080706145X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807061459
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #493,242 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

In this arresting hybrid of journalism and memoir Leech relates his experiences investigating political, economic, and drug-related stories throughout Latin America. The narrative is organized into 11 chapters, which parallel the 11 hours Leech was detained by the FARC, a Colombian guerrilla group, in 2006. Each chapter begins with details of Leech's captivity, which serve as introductions to broader stories, including the civil unrest and massacres in 1980s El Salvador; his meetings with government officials and paramilitary and guerrilla groups vying for power in Panama, Colombia, and other nearby countries; and the wavering effectiveness of the U.S. war on drugs. Along the way, Leech highlights the rampant human-rights violations in the region, the fumigation of cocaine plants, which also destroys other crops, and the large displaced civilian populations often caught in the cross fire. This enlightening book, which mixes a readable level of detail and background with personal narrative, should be in every library, public and academic.—Sarah Statz Cords, Reader's Advisor Online
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

In this remarkable saga, Garry Leech conveys brilliantly and with vivid insight the magical qualities of this rich and tortured land, and the struggles and torment of its people . . . inspiring in their courage and dedication in the face of terror from within and from outside. Leech shows how our insatiable greed and easy resort to violence play no small part.—Noam Chomsky

"Garry Leech belongs in the company of a handful of war correspondents—Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Christian Parenti—who have been risking life and limb to bring to light the catastrophic human and environmental consequences of U.S. foreign policy. In prose that is clear, calm, and vivid, Leech relates the harrowing experience of being kidnapped by the largest rebel group in America's forgotten war in Colombia. Beyond Bogotá is thus an extraordinary portrait of grace under pressure-not only of the author himself, but of ordinary Colombians fighting for social justice and a negotiated peace to total war. Leech's unforgettable story is part of their story, and part of ours as well."—Forrest Hylton, author of Evil Hour in Colombia

"If you really want to know what life is like for rural Colombians who are living through the horrors of the country's brutal-and under-reported-internal conflict, read this book. Having reported from Colombia myself, I can vouch for Garry Leech's honesty-and bravery. This no-frills book grips you from first page to the last." —Sue Branford, journalist, former Latin American analyst for BCC World Service and co-author of Chemical Warfare in Colombia: The Costs of Coca Fumigation

"Leech's Beyond Bogotá is critical to understanding the so-called 'War on Drugs' waged by the U.S. government in Colombia. To hear the government line about U.S. involvement in Colombia, stay tuned to the establishment media. If you want the truth about the reality on the ground there, read this book."—Dahr Jamail, author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq

"Garry Leech has seen more of Colombia than almost anyone, often at great personal risk. In Beyond Bogotá, a gripping and inspired book, he tells us what he saw and heard. Leech has created an essential volume for anyone who wants to understand Colombia's conflict, or indeed the U.S. role in Latin America."—Adam Isacson, Director of Programs, Center for International Policy (Washington DC)

More About the Author

Garry Leech is a British-born American independent journalist and author whose work has focused on U.S. foreign policy and globalization. He is also a lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Cape Breton University in Canada. More information about Garry and his work can be found on his website at garryleech.com

Customer Reviews

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I think this is a very good book about conditions in the Zonas today.
Jerry T. Estruth
I have found this book to be quite helpful, and reccomend it highly to anyone else who wants to learn about Colombia.
Caminante
I would love to just sit down with the author and talk to him about his time in Colombia.
A. J. Williams

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Caminante on February 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I am writing my capstone paper on the War on Drugs in the Andes, and a classmate reccomended this book. I wish Leech had written it earlier, because I was looking all over for a decent summary on the War on Drugs in Colombia, and now one shows up just when I have finished the history section of the paper.

At any rate, Leech provides excellent information about FARC, the paramilitaries, a mining company called Drummond, coca fumigation, the links between the Colombian army and the paramilitaries, the mainstream media, indigenous people and campesinos...and probably more that I can't remember off the top of my head. He has interviewed quite a few members of most groups (the exception being the mining company), so one gets a good feel for the attitudes of the people involved.

What I find most interesting is Leech's assesment of the mainstream media. He says that most journalists to not venture far from Bogota, and so do not get the perspectives of those living in the more remote regions. He also charges (and I think rightly) that the mainstream media has paid more attention to FARC than the paramilitaries, who have done most of the killings and abuses(although he, again rightly, does not excuse FARC for committing its share of the killings and abuses).

I have found this book to be quite helpful, and reccomend it highly to anyone else who wants to learn about Colombia.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Brian Kodi VINE VOICE on March 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Leech has been on a multi-year mission to report on the U.S. government's "escalating role in Colombia's civil conflict and military interventions", and on the atrocities committed in Colombia's war on drugs and the FARC, Colombia's largest leftist guerrilla group. To accomplish this goal, Mr. Leech has spent most of his time in rural areas and outside of the relatively safe capital of Colombia, Bogota, where most mainstream foreign media confine themselves to. Mr. Leech believes the mainstream media report news that is predominantly influenced by the Colombian government and military, the U.S. embassy, and business elites.

Once again, as has been the case in numerous other countries both in South America and elsewhere, Washington's foreign policies are rife with militaristic reactions to undesirable conditions such as coca cultivation, and there is little done in the way of addressing the root causes of rampant illegal cocaine production and distribution which are almost always social and economic in nature. Thrown into the mix is the ill conceived and aggressive displacement of locals, often by the paramilitary forces to pave the way for multinational corporations to conduct their operations, e.g. Occidental Petroleum, Drummond Company Inc. et al. As a result, Colombia is host to the world's worst population displacement conundrum.

Five billion dollars of aid and eight years of the controversial Plan Colombia announced by then president Bill Clinton has failed to reduce cocaine production. Plan Colombia was originally proposed by Colombian President Andres Pastrana in 1999. With the U.S. involvement and aid to Colombia's government, the focus quickly shifted to counternarcotics and the strengthening and utilization of military forces.

Unfortunately, Mr.
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By Richard Long on March 12, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Interesting book for anyone interested in the Colombian drug wars and anti terrorist
campaigns in the recent past. The author reports from areas that other journalist
refuse to enter and lets us know the connections of the Colombian military and
paramilitaries in the horrendous human rights abuses that have occurred
in that country. Also discussion of the United States involvement.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very good book probing the conflict in Colombia in a way many other journalists do not, however the author could have devoted more time to actions committed by the FARC such as car bombings and kidnappings.
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By Jacqueline Hendricks on January 28, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I needed the information for a novel I've written and the first hand account of Colombia was perfect. I was rewarded with a piece of the world I knew little about. In America we often think drugs and drug dealers as some group of folks in a bubble, but this side of all that business is so important. I wish many people would read this and increase their understanding of the drug business.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By FeWolf on November 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found the book to pretty much on the mark, as some one who spent several years in the Central and South American area or operation, the only thing that I find distrubing is the author's options on the subject, I felt he was leaning to the left on many of the issue, while he does address many of the issues in the area, he missed the main mark. Corruption is a way of life in the area from the top to the bottom, until the Government is fixed, the issue will continue. I suggest reading "Hunting Pablo Escobar", another good read, both should be read to give thought too
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