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Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico's Drug Wars Hardcover – September 27, 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Longmire offers fresh insights into almost every facet of the war on drugs . . . One-stop shopping for basic knowledge about U.S.-Mexican narcotics diplomacy.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“In Cartel Sylvia Longmire furthers our understanding of a very complex health and national security issue south of the border and within the United States itself.” ―Malcolm Beith, author of The Last Narco

Cartel is a well-balanced blend of organized crime 101 and thought-provoking analysis of the current violence in Mexico. It's an important addition to the current body of work on the criminal underworld that continues to spread its presence and influence north of the border into the United States. Readers will find themselves on the front line of this decades-old drug war that has finally crossed our border.” ―Samuel Logan, author of This is for Mara Salvatrucha

“There's a real need for an easy-to-read, one-stop-shopping overview of the myriad issues facing us from Mexico's cartels. Longmire allows people to finally have the context to make sense of the drug war.” ―Nicholas Stein, Series Producer, National Geographic's Border Wars

“Longmire's hard hitting, law enforcement-centered view of the situation on our border with Mexico is valuable and timely. Her up-to-the-minute, fact based account provides a much needed perspective on a problem that has been hijacked by exaggeration, and hyperbole and outright misinformation. It should be required reading for all who care about making our borders more secure.” ―Terry Goddard, former Arizona Attorney General 2003-2011

“From an experienced cartel analyst and special agent, this is a powerful and very comprehensive look into the broad scope of Mexican drug violence and its impact on the security of our nation. One of the best books I've seen to understand Mexican cartels, border violence, drug trafficking and the ramifications of spill-over crime into America. I encourage you to read this book.” ―Fred Burton, VP Intelligence, Stratfor, and author of Chasing Shadows

“The insights here are invaluable--and essential. Longmire's depth of knowledge and analysis come in well-crafted prose that's as thrilling to read as any novel and compelling for even the most casual reader.” ―David Silverberg, Editor, Homeland Security Today

About the Author

Sylvia Longmire was a Special Agent in the Air Force and a senior intelligence analyst for the state of California. She has been interviewed on Geraldo at Large, CNN and CNN International, BBC World Radio, and her writing is regularly featured in Homeland Security Today magazine. Currently, Longmire is an independent consultant, and testifies as an expert witness on U.S. asylum cases.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (September 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230111378
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230111370
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ms. Longmire is a [medically] retired Air Force captain and former Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. During her eight years with AFOSI, she conducted numerous criminal investigations and worked extensively in the fields of counterintelligence, counterespionage, and force protection. During her last assignment, Ms. Longmire worked at HQ AFOSI as the Latin America desk officer, analyzing issues in the US Southern Command area of responsibility that might affect the security of deployed Air Force personnel. From Dec 2005-Jul 2009, Sylvia worked as a senior intelligence analyst for the California state fusion center and the California Emergency Management Agency's Situational Awareness Unit, focusing almost exclusively on Mexican drug trafficking organizations and southwest border violence issues. Between 2004 and 2011, she regularly lectured on terrorism in Latin America at the Air Force Special Operations School's Dynamics of International Terrorism course. She holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of South Florida in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, with a focus on the Cuban and Guatemalan revolutions.

Ms. Longmire has been published in Small Wars Journal, Henley-Putnam University's Journal of Strategic Security, the Journal of Energy Security, the American Bar Association's National Security Report, and the US Army Counter Terrorism Center's The Sentinel. Her writing is also regularly featured in Homeland Security Today magazine's Borders & Intelligence column. Ms. Longmire has been interviewed extensively by national, international, local, and Internet news outlets, including "Geraldo at Large" on Fox News Channel, "John King USA" on CNN, "The Dylan Ratigan Show" on MSNBC, CNN International, CNN México, AOL News, BBC Radio, the Miami Herald, the Houston Chronicle and the San Diego Union-Tribune, as well as Mexico's Proceso, El Universal, El Diario, and Rio Doce. She has also appeared as a guest expert on an episode of The History Channel's "Brad Meltzer's Decoded," and has regularly consulted with producers of National Geographic Channel's "Border Wars" and "Drugs Inc." series.

Ms. Longmire is currently an independent consultant and freelance writer, and is an ASBPE award-winning correspondent for Homeland Security Today magazine. She is also on the Board of Advisors for Stanford University's non-profit organization Love Thy Neighbor, Mexico, a Small Wars Journal El Centro Fellow, and an instructor on terrorism and transnational crime at Henley-Putnam University. Her first book, Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico's Drug Wars (Palgrave Macmillan), was published in September 2011, and was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She was also a contributor to Glenn Beck's Cowards: What Politicians, Radicals, and the Media Refuse to Say (Threshold Editions). Her next book, Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren't Making Us Safer (Palgrave Macmillan) is being published in April 2014. Ms. Longmire regularly provides services as an expert witness for Mexican immigration cases. She is available for public speaking engagements and interviews.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Although the book does provide some information, it comes off more as an Wikipedia entry than a thoughtful analysis. As other reviews have pointed out, it lacks the on-the-ground perspective that other better books such as "El Narco" by Ioun Grillo have. The author herself states that her view of the Mexican drug war was largely shaped through working as an analyst pouring over government reports, satellite imagery, etc. While all of this info is valid, there is a limit to what one can see without actually being there, and this flawed book is evidence of that.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This year I started reading books on this topic, the first one was: To Die in Mexico: Dispatches from Inside the Drug War by John Gibler, which I taught was good, but a little short. The second book was El Narco: Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency by Ioan Grillo, which I was and still am impressed by it, and at the moment I'm reading Cartel, which feels so amateurish in comparison to the other two.

I'm not an expert critic and its hard to pin point what is the worst of it, but it feels all over the place. And S. Longmire start sentences with "Meth labs are funny things." And she talks about hypothetical cases when sadly there are thousand of real cases to talk about. It could be that she writes only with info, data, and news that she has read and not out of first hand experiences. This is why after every page I finish, instead been amazed as I was with every page of El Narco, I'm left with a feeling of having just absorbed regurgitated words.

The only pro is that the publishing quality is great. Only buy it If you want to add a red covered book to your library collection.


Read her blog first, and if you like her style buy her book.
1 Comment 25 of 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After all the hype this book received it turned out to be a major disappointment, an insult to anyone at all familiar with Mexican politics. As I read I scribbled notes and scratched my head in disbelief. Longmire makes statements that are more than debatable, they are dead wrong ("Mexico has been a democracy with relatively transparent elections for quite some time.") and absolute nonsense like "Tourism is rebounding..." despite cruise ships refusing to make vacant Acapulco a port of call, and the border towns all but closed down and borded up.
It's almost hilarious, but when she writes with admiration about the Mexican government it seems the only adjective she uses is "bold." She never questions the nation's leaders when it comes to honesty, making the president appear to be a mixture of Lincoln, Juarez, and Gandhi. But when it comes to the biggest cause of the violent warfare (supply and demand fueled by the U.S. prohibition of marijuana) she blithely dismisses it as the United States "greedy love of drugs." One can't help but wonder if she is aware that alcohol is a drug, and that Mexico was a source of the banned substance during the bloody turf wars caused by the Volstead Act. Wasn't Capone the head of a nasty cartel?

Yes, Longmire got to interview President Calderon and she was apparently overwhelmed (whereas more intelligent people such as Javier Sicilia are underwhelmed) because she gushes ".. he gets a steely look in his eyes and speaks with quiet fire. It quickly becomes obvious that this is a man who is committed...
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9 Comments 67 of 80 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
Sylvia Longmire's research is thorough and well-presented in this book. If you are unfamiliar with the thorny issues surrounding the Mexican drug wars and how they are affecting - and affected by the United States, this is a great read that will open your eyes to the players involved and how this affects you. Well-written, professional journalism that makes a strong effort to be even-handed, Longmire took on a difficult project and completed it well. This subject is changing so quickly, however, that you will want to subscribe to Longmire's blog to gain a more complete understanding of the US role in the violence as more facts are uncovered in the Fast and Furious scandal.
2 Comments 14 of 18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
CARTEL certainly opened my eyes to the pervasive and dangerous drug threat facing all U.S. residents, not just those near our national borders, large cities and major urban areas. This book was a seriously needed wake-up call for a small-town girl from the Midwest. These threats have managed to creep into America's "heartland" -- areas I previously thought were "safe" from, or even immune to, powerful, manipulative and bloody Mexican cartels. The things depicted in movies like "BLOW" and "Traffic" are actually happening in every stitch of America's fabric. While I am glad to be enlightened, I pray for all those who fight every day to keep that fabric from unraveling. An excellent, must-read!
2 Comments 16 of 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is very conversational and "story-telling" in its nature. It's intended for people like me, those who aren't that familiar with the threat of Mexico's cartels and those who live away from the border. I found it easy to read, informative, and sometimes worrisome. Great book!
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