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Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw Paperback – April 2, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (April 2, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142000957
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142000953
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (304 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Readers of Black Hawk Down know Mark Bowden can tell an exciting story about as well as any writer at work today. Killing Pablo is further proof. It describes the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar, a notorious Colombian drug lord who became one of the narcotic trade's first billionaires. Pablo--Bowden refers to him by his first name throughout the book--started out as a petty thief and wound up running a massive smuggling empire. At his height in the 1980s, he owned fleets of boats and planes, plus 19 separate residences in Medellin, each with its own helipad. Violence marked everything he did: "He wasn't an entrepreneur, and he wasn't even an especially talented businessman. He was just ruthless." He bought off police, politicians, and judges throughout his country, and killed many others who wouldn't cooperate. The Colombian government tried to capture him, but without much luck; he evaded them time after time. "Now and then the police achieved enough surprise to catch him, literally, with his pants down. In [1988], about one thousand national police raided one of his mansions," writes Bowden. "Pablo fled in his underwear, avoiding the police cordon on foot." He got away, again, but his days were numbered. He was making powerful enemies in both Colombia and the United States. The final straw probably came when Pablo's men murdered a popular politician and, three months later, planted a bomb on a plane, killing 110 people, including two Americans.

The bulk of Killing Pablo describes what happened when the U.S. government put its resources behind the hunt for Pablo. Bowden describes the search in gripping detail, from the massive electronic-surveillance effort to bureaucratic infighting between rival U.S. agencies. This is an outstanding work of reportorial journalism, too: in the epilogue, Bowden drops tantalizing hints that it was an American--not a Colombian--who delivered the killing shot to Pablo in 1993. Readers looking for a real-life thriller--or any kind of thriller, for that matter--won't do much better than Killing Pablo. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The author of the bestseller Black Hawk Down, which depicted the U.S. military's involvement in Somalia, Bowden hits another home run with his chronicle of the manhunt for Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. He traces the prevalence of violence in Colombian history as background, then launches into the tale of the dramatic rise and fall of "Don Pablo," as he was known. Packed with detail, the book shows how Escobar, a pudgy, uneducated man who smoked marijuana daily, ruthlessly built the infamous Medellin cartel, a drug machine that eventually controlled much of Colombian life. As Bowden shows, the impotence of the Colombian government left a void readily filled by Escobar's mafia. While not ignoring the larger picture e.g., the terrible drug-related murders that wracked the South American country in the late 1980s and early 1990s Bowden never loses sight of the human story behind the search for Escobar, who was finally assassinated in 1993, and the terrible toll the hunt took on many of its main players.. There's a smoking gun here: Bowden charges that U.S. special forces were likely involved in helping some of Colombia's other drug lords assassinate perhaps more than a hundred people linked to Escobar. There's no doubt, according to Bowden, that the U.S. government was involved in the search for Escobar after a 1989 airplane bombing that killed 100 and made him, in Bowden's words, "Public Enemy Number One in the world." This revelation highlights one of Bowden's many journalistic accomplishments here: he shows how the search for Escobar became an end in itself. (May 8)Forecast: Bowden will go on a monster tour (about two dozen cities) to promote this BOMC selection, which also has its own Web site (www.killingpablo.com). Expect healthy sales.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Mark Bowden is the bestselling author of Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, as well as The Best Game Ever, Bringing the Heat, Killing Pablo, and Guests of the Ayatollah. He reported at The Philadelphia Inquirer for twenty years and now writes for Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, and other magazines. He lives in Oxford, Pennsylvania.

Customer Reviews

The bad guys are at odds with each other, and the good guys take full advantage of that.
John
While not losing focus of the overall theme of the book, Bowden does a fantastic job familiarizing the reader with Colombian socio-political events.
M
In Mark Bowden's latest book he recreates the hunt for Pablo Escobar, the ruthless leader of the infamous Medellin cocaine cartel.
Patrick Graham

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Robert S. Campbell on May 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Killing Pablo is a hard-hitting book that truly represents the brutal reality of the war in Colombia. As a Special Forces Master Sergeant with multiple tours in Colombia I can honestly say that Mark Bowden has done a masterful job of encapsulating this conflagration by describing the events that led to the rise and fall of one of its most notorious figures-Pablo Escobar. Bowden starts off by giving a brief history of the war in Colombia, starting with La Violencia, and then of course the current Narco war that is currently consuming Colombia. The events are taken from various sources and Mr. Bowden does a superb job of describing, in detail, what lengths the US and Colombia went through to take down one of the largest criminal empires in history. The book ends with questions that we as American should be asking ourselves. Is it worth the effort - in the name of National Security- to selectively target foreign citizens for assassination? My conclusion is incomplete. However, I will say that the removal of Pablo Escobar was nothing more than a tactical victory in a war Colombia and the United States are losing strategically. This book is a must for Special Operations Soldiers, Latin American Historians, Law Enforcement Officers, and anyone who is involved in the policy decisions concerning the US war on drugs.
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Newt Gingrich THE on May 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Bowden has done it again. This is not quite the work of genius that Black Hawk Down was but this is a very engrossing and serious account of a manhunt that came to symbolize many of the challenges we face in the drug war. Pablo Escobar was the richest and most powerful cocaine dealer in the world. He acquired pretensions to enter politics and turn Colombia into a personal fiefdom. The United States government allied with the Colombian government in what became a multi-year campaign that was far harder and far more dangerous than any one would have believed when it began.
In the end Pablo was dead but the drug trade was as powerful and as profitable as ever. Its center of activity had moved from Medellin to Cali and the newer generation of drug lords had learned a lot from watching (and in fact participating in) the campaign against Pablo. In many ways the Cali cartel became the ally of the Colombian and American governments jointly seeking to get rid of Escobar.
This book raises serious questions about the nature of American involvement in the third world. When combined with Black Hawk Down you get a realistic pair of assessments of the limitations of American power and the nature of the grim realities we are trying to change in much of the third world.
This is a very helpful but sobering book for anyone interested in the drug war, in America's role in the world or in a recent skirmish with fascinating ramifications.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Steve Iaco on May 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I purchased "Killing Pablo" solely on the strength of Mark Bowden's previous stellar work, "Black Hawk Down." While "Pablo" isn't quite up to the standard of "Black Hawk" (one of the best books I've read in the past five years), it is nevertheless an engaging read that is at once informative and entertaining.
"Pablo" is Pablo Escobar, the ruthless Colombian drup kingpin who, by the late 1980s, had amassed one of the world's largest -- and certainly most illicit -- fortunes. Mr. Bowden recounts the story of how the notorious international narco-gangster was finally brought to heel by a combination of Colombian law enforcement agencies, the U.S. DEA and Army Delta Force (which provided critical training and surveillance technology), and importantly, Escobar's rivals in the cocaine cartel. The vigilante terrorism visited upon the infrastructure of Escobar's empire by his cocaine cartel rivals (equally as vicious as Pablo himself) -- with the tacit sanction of the Colombian government -- was the critical factor in the eventual tracking down and killing of Pablo following an off-and-on-again three-year manhunt.
This book is included in the "Wall Street Journal's" review (Friday, May 18) of the better reads of the Summer of 2001. That judgment gets no quarrel from this reader.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Konrei TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
KILLING PABLO is the story of the rise, hunt, fall and death of Pablo Escobar, the chief of the Medellin Cocaine Cartel. Mark Bowden (BLACK HAWK DOWN) is gifted in bringing essentially unknown tales into the public eye, and here he does it again, dramatically. His ability to take the hidden and twisted threads of covert operations and weave a complete story from them is impressive.

Pablo, as Bowden refers to him throughout, was a small-time hood who rose to true if notorious greatness on a ladder stained with blood. At the peak of his influence he had a net worth of billions of dollars.

Pablo cultivated a jolly demeanor and, in truth, lacked couth, though he could be personally disarming. In dress, he preferred white velcro-strap Nike sneakers and blue jeans. He was short and plump. He was hardly the image of the "Don Pablo" he wanted to be. He was easy to underestimate, as the world discovered.

At his zenith, he had all but convinced the ruling oligarchy of Colombia that coca cultivation and processing was a growth industry, even if frowned upon by staid norteamericanos with no taste for trend.

In 1983 Pablo was elected a Congressional alternate from his state of Antioquia, ruled Medellin with an iron fist, and was a serious contender for the Presidency of his nation. Ten years later he was dead.

Pablo Escobar was a study in contradictions. He was 'the most Wanted man in the world' who spent most of his criminal life in the open. A sociopathic megalomaniac, he saw nothing bizarre in blowing up planes and buildings and killing hundreds in the course of targeting one man. He was a devoted husband and father with a penchant for seducing teenage girls.
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