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El Narco [Kindle Edition]

Ioan Grillo
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (222 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The world has watched stunned at the bloodshed in Mexico. Thirty thousand murdered since 2006; police chiefs shot within hours of taking office; mass graves comparable to those of civil wars; car bombs shattering storefronts; headless corpses heaped in town squares. And it is all because a few Americans are getting high. Or is it? The United States throws Black Hawk helicopters and drug agents at the problem. But in secret, Washington is confused and divided about what to do. Who are these mysterious figures tearing Mexico apart? they wonder. What is El Narco? El Narco draws the first definitive portrait of Mexico's drug cartels and how they have radically transformed in the last decade. El Narco is not a gang; it is a movement and an industry drawing in hundreds of thousands from bullet-ridden barrios to marijuana-growing mountains. And it has created paramilitary death squads with tens of thousands of men-at-arms from Guatemala to the Texas border. Journalist Ioan Grillo has spent a decade in Mexico reporting on the drug wars from the front lines. This piercing book joins testimonies from inside the cartels with firsthand dispatches and unsparing analysis. The devastation may be south of the Rio Grande, El Narco shows, but America is knee-deep in this conflict

Editorial Reviews


Grillo's clear-eyed, sobering account has authority and a flair for colourful anecdotes, making for disturbing but riveting reading Metro A superb report form the front lines of narco-violence Independent [A] shining example of dogged, impassioned and courageous reporting ... compelling ... his pace is furious, like driving at top speed along a wild mountain track in a pickup and there is no doubting his expertise, his compassion or his grit Daily Express It is hard enough to report the facts of Mexico's crazy death spiral of drug violence. Ioan Grillo goes much, much deeper. He explains why El Narco threatens the soul of this beautiful country. He tells us how we got here -- William Booth, bureau chief for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean Washington Post A fascinating and terrifying account Sydney Morning Herald Heartbreaking ... El Narco is a fine work of journalism Irish Times Remarkable Houston Chronicle Puts a human face on the bloodshed Boston Globe

About the Author

A native of England, Ioan Grillo has covered Mexico since 2001 for top newspapers, magazines and TV stations in the US and UK. He reports for Time Magazine as well as producing presentations for stations including PBS, ABC and Channel 4 of the UK. He regularly appears on radio and TV, commenting on Mexican crime and other issues. He has witnessed police and military operations, mafia killings and major seizures; he's also discussed the drug war with two Mexican presidents, three attorney generals and the U.S. ambassador, among others.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1248 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Press (November 1, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005TIM8BW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,477 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As close to the cartels as you want to get November 16, 2011
By Lazy P
Driving up dirt trails into the Sierra Madre to visit poppy farmers. Scoping out cartel henchmen in Nuevo Laredo's red-light district with a heroin addict as a guide. Hanging out for an afternoon with a hitman in Medellin. That's about as close to Mexico's brutal drug trade as a journalist can go without getting whacked.

Ioan Grillo's El Narco is a frighteningly up-close look at the drug conflict in Mexico that reminds us that reality sometimes is more outlandish than fiction.

Grillo has spent a decade working as a journalist in Mexico and following the Sinaloa, Gulf and Zeta cartels as well as government officials struggling unsuccessfully to rein them in. That experience shows up in this book, which he wrote in a colorful narrative that gives you the feeling you're out there reporting with him.

Grillo takes you through a detailed and well documented history of drug trade in Mexico, from opium dens run by Chinese immigrants in the 19th century and up to the cartel turf wars and government crackdown that all together have led to tens of thousands of violent deaths. Through anecdotes and interviews with police, thugs and presidents Grillo provides a blow-by-blow explanation of what led to the explosion of decapitations, massacres and gun battles that in recent years have made Juarez -- a stone's throw from Texas -- the most dangerous city in the world.

Grillo is rightly critical of the often bumbling and contradictory Mexican and U.S. government policies that have failed to stop the drug cartels. He has seen more of the conflict perhaps than any other reporter and probably more than most DEA agents, who would do well to interview him when they get the chance - or at least read his book.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In the last five years or so, the horrific violence across the Rio Grange has made headlines in the USA. There are articles about seemingly random gun battles in major cities, executions of drug "players," police, and even journalists covering the story. The book "El Narco" provides historical context and gripping reporting about this terrible situation.

The reader learns that the "Mexican drug trade" for the US started with the smuggling of opium across the border to fuel the needs of Chinese workers in the 19th century. In the 1960s, the rise in marijuana consumption led to importation of this drug. The sucessful Federal (US) efforts to shut down Florida as a route for Cocaine smuggling in the 1980s led to use of Mexico, with its large border, as the alternative pathway.

The book also explains how and why the violence has escalated so dramatically in the last few years, stemming in part from the end of one party political rule, and perhaps more importantly, the morphing of police/soldiers in Mexico from passive players (taking bribes) to active players, culminating in the rise of the Zetas, an almost unbelievably brutal drug organization.

Like any good reporter, the author provides telling details. A graphic example involves the take down of a major drug kingpin in an operation which resulted in fatalities amongst the soldiers/police who did the job. Gunmen from the kingpin's organization infiltrated the funeral of one of the soldiers, and murdered several family members. That is the way the game is played South of the Border.

My one (minor) criticism concerns the final chapter, in which the author provides suggested approaches which might help stem the violent tide. These ideas ( e.g.
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49 of 60 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but could have been so much better December 21, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There is no doubt that Grillo has done his homework and knows a fair amount about the Mexican drug trade. His writing seems supported by an expertise and detailed research. Unfortunately, the book came up a little short of my expectations.

The Good Points:

* A very detailed look at the Mexican drug cartels, with sufficient detail to make it seem believable and well researched.

* Unusual for the "true crime" genre, Grillo looks at Mexican society and how it has both affected and been affected by the drug trade. Close-knit families, geography, and even religion all have had an affect on how the cartels grow and prosper. Very nice to see these topics included.

* With its discounted price, the book is a great deal. I am a big fan of discounted titles as a way to read books on topics that normally wouldn't catch my interest. For the price, an excellent valuc.

The Not-So-Good Points

* The book is more like a collection of essays than a history book. I didn't find any underlying thesis to the work, just a series of chapters on different topics. Given Grillo's background, the comparison to a series of (detailed) magazine articles seems obvious. (Think Atlantic Monthly).

* Grill can't seem to decide if he is writing a history text of a series of editorials. His opinions come through very strongly, and he is prone to inserting snarky and rather informal personal commentary in the work. It takes away from the quality of the book, and quite honestly breaks my concentration.

* I found his writing style to be somewhat stiff and unyielding. Not the long, complicated prose of a scholarly history text, but not the easy-read language of a mass-market volume.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great Item.
Published 1 day ago by JosephJacobs
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful read gives you a way better understanding of bloody Mexico
I myself as a Mexican living in the United States since age 5 couldn't comprehend why so much violence in my home country. After reading this book I can now understand why. Read more
Published 2 days ago by JZ
4.0 out of 5 stars If you think Mexico is safe, read this.
Great book. Accurately describes the Narco problems in Mexico. Scary stuff just south of the border...but a good read.
Published 12 days ago by K. E. Cameron
5.0 out of 5 stars This is perhaps the best, most well rounded book on the topic of ...
This is perhaps the best, most well rounded book on the topic of trafficking that I have read. Grillo does an excellent job of breaking down the topic into all aspects, including... Read more
Published 13 days ago by D. Zeisset
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 19 days ago by ole petter flugsrud
3.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious and rambling with some good details
"El Narco" is the Ioan Grillo's attempt to explain the ins-and-outs of Mexico's drug war. It is a very ambitious book that covers a lot of ground. Read more
Published 23 days ago by M.B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and SO accessible
Grillo gave us something incredible here. He took all his years of seeing this brutal conflict up close and personal and put it in one volume for us to know what we might otherwise... Read more
Published 28 days ago by Clay Robison
5.0 out of 5 stars Best narco books
Well written!
Published 1 month ago by alberto pineda
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Eye opening account on the war in Mexico
Published 1 month ago by Abraham Castellon
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome read
Great insight into the Narco world and its beginning. Lots of great examples of how to deal with this global problem. Awesome read.
Published 1 month ago by JFLO
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