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News of a Kidnapping (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century) Paperback – June 1, 1998

4.3 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

During the 1980s, the government of Colombia signed a treaty with the United States allowing for the extradition of Colombian citizens. This caused a great deal of distress among the kingpins of the Medellín drug cartel. Why? Traffickers like Pablo Escobar had spent the decade exporting billions of dollars' worth of cocaine. They weren't likely to be arrested at home, but if extradited and tried in America, they would spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Escobar and his colleagues tried to a cut a deal with the government. Then Escobar decided that a little extralegal pressure--i.e., terrorism--could do no harm. In short order he had 10 prominent Colombians kidnapped; most were journalists, and all had professional or personal ties to the pro-extradition movement. Ultimately two of the hostages were shot. The remaining eight were released in a trickle, as the drug traffickers began to break ranks and surrender. So ended at least one episode in what Gabriel García Márquez calls "the biblical holocaust that has been consuming Colombia for more than twenty years."

García Márquez was originally invited to write about the kidnapping by Maruja Pachon, who spent six months in captivity. As he began to write, however, he realized that her story was inseparable from that of the other nine victims. The result is a meticulous, sobering, and suspenseful book. It is, of course, a work of reportage, which puts a lid on the author's penchant for magic realism. But in the hands of a writer like García Márquez, truth makes fiction look paltry indeed. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Garcia Marquez, Latin America's Nobel prize-winning novelist, turns his hand for the first time to nonfiction to explain, through one individual's experience, the widespread kidnapping in Colombia. Although focusing on Maruja Pachon's six months in captivity and her prominent husband's efforts to obtain her release, the book is really about the 1990 abduction of ten individuals by drug traffickers hoping to prevent their extradition to the United States. As he does so memorably in his fiction, the author captures the political intricacies and strange, deep involvement of drug dealers in Colombian life, turning what as easily could have been an imagined story into a fascinating exploration of contemporary culture, politics, and drug lords. Highly recommended.?Roderic A. Camp, Latin American Ctr., Tulane Univ., New Orleans
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (June 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140269444
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140269444
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,223,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Enrique Torres VINE VOICE on August 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
If one were not familiar with the kidnappings that have occurred in Columbia, one might just believe this was a brilliant piece of fiction. Unfortunately this is not the case and Marquez does a fantastic job of recounting the terror that the hostages had to go through in their ordeal. This a true life tale of one of the plagues of Latin America. It is all to common to hear of prominent atheletes, entertainers and other high profile individuals being held ransom to fullfill a political cause. This is a story of Pablo Escobar, the notorious drug lord and how he conducted his reign over Columbia. This is the story of the Medellin cartels attempt to pressure the United Staates into not exradicting any of it's members. The portrayl of the drug lords and their lackeys is brilliant, showing the human side of people who are inhumane. The captives are so real, as portrayed by Marquez that one becomes very emotional over the conditions they had to endure. This book details the kidnapping of various journalists, ten in all, one by one. An easy enough book to read one will finish this book quickly as the suspense is, to use a pun, captivating. That Gabriel Garcia Marquez would write such a book is amazing considering that he risks his life by doing so. True to his his journalist roots he did it at the urging of the released captives suggestion. Marquez is to be applauded for his effort and his bravery as well as he shed some international light on a terrible malady of Latin America. After reading this you will appreciate your freedom and and all the luxuries it affords.
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Format: Hardcover
Let me say this first: this is not a book for the fainthearted! If you have someone you care about in Colombia, you will drive that person (and yourself) crazy if you read this book!! (Unfortunately, I speak from experience.. *gentle smile*)
Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez is best known for his beautiful classic novel "One Hundred Years of Solitude". "News of a Kidnapping" is very different from the other novels I have read of García Márquez, but still very interesting and well written. If one were not familiar with the kidnappings that have occurred in Columbia, one might just believe this was just another brilliant novel by Garcia Márquez.
"News of a kidnapping" is a true-life story of one of the evils of Colombia and Latin America. García Márquez writes about the kidnappings of Colombian journalists, and other well-known persons or their relatives, ten in total. "News of a kidnapping" is the story of how these people lived during their endless months in captivity. While held hostages they were not tortured nor abused, but just being away from their families and loved ones for many months and the lack of news from the outside world wore them out. The emotional suffering was made even worse by the attitudes of their abductors. One moment they could be very nice to them, and in the next moment they could be behaving like wild animals. Parallel to the memoirs of the imprisoned journalists, we follow their families and their anxiety; and the fight to have the ones kidnapped set free.
In Colombia people live in constant fear of being the next victim of kidnapping, or maybe even worse, that their loved ones will be.
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Format: Paperback
I read News of a kidnapping(Noticias de un Secuestro) of colombian writer, Gabriel García Márquez in spanish, and for me it was one of those book that I found myself cryng while reading it. Does it loose something with the translation?,I don't know; Does it loose something with the cultural gap?, maybe.Maybe if you don't live in a country were your physical integrity its in constant risk, you'll find this novel an odd version of Magic realism, but one musn't forget that García Márquez began his career as a journalist, and in his collected journalist works you could find in seed what you can fully appreciate in News of a kidnapping: That Gabo is almost as talented in non-fiction as he is in fiction. He might not be your typical or classical journalist, his works are so interesting and well written that you might think that you're reading fiction. Lástima that this is not the case: in Colombia, and lately in Venezuela, people live in constant fear of beign the next prey of the kidnappers,or maybe even worse, their loved ones. These menace is for everybody: Young, old, women, men, children, poor people, rich people. I think that García Márquez dared to write about something that few would: the kidnappings of a number of colombian journalists.How they lived during their endless months in captivity; their families and their desperation; the negotiations; the sacrifices of human life for what: An ideal...or greed? News of a kidnapping its a wonderful books of a horrible contemporary latinamerican issue.
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Marquez, in his work, provides us a particularly fascinating read into the psyche of a people oppressed by the unpredictable violence of the narco-terrorism and kidnappings that had defined existence for many Columbians - particularly those in Medellin and the capitol - during the "reign" of Pablo Escobar and his drug empire.

With his journalistic background, Marquez adeptly tells the story of a number of well-connected families with strong political ties to the Columbian government's regime whose members had been kidnapped during the war between Escobar's "Extraditables" and the government's security forces. In great detail Marquez portrays the plight of the kidnappers, the victims, the politicians, the common people, and the media - and enjoins the reader to understand that during this time in Columbian history the whole nation was imprisoned by a consciousness of fear and unpredictability which is hard to comprehend for those of us who have been blessed to live in a more peaceful moment of history.

Interestingly, the book has recently gained attention in the international media after Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mussavi, who had been placed under house arrest for the past six months by the current Iranian regime, stated, "If you want to understand my situation, read [Marquez's] News of a Kidnapping." Since this public announcement, the book has become one of the best-selling in Iran's recent history. And this is not just because the book delivers a powerful portrait of forced captivity such as that which is likely endured by Mussavi; but there's a wealth of much wider political messages that permeate this eloquent work of historical significance.
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