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Law of the Jungle: The Hunt for Colombian Guerrillas, American Hostages, and Buried Treasure Hardcover – February 23, 2010


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Law of the Jungle: The Hunt for Colombian Guerrillas, American Hostages, and Buried Treasure + Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle + Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (February 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061671800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061671807
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,162,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In July 2008, Colombia’s army foisted a brilliant ruse upon its Marxist enemy, the FARC. Masquerading as humanitarian workers, soldiers tricked the FARC into handing over its most valuable hostages: three American military contractors whose plane had crashed into the jungle (FARC murdered their two comrades on the spot); Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt; and several Colombian police and military personnel. Journalist Otis’ intensive depiction of that operation culminates his chronicle of how the victims fell into the clutches of the FARC, the ordeal of captivity, and their relatives’ pressure to obtain their release. Otis frames such specifics with the decades-long rebellion by the FARC and its resorting to extortion, drug trafficking, and kidnapping to finance itself. A Colombian army unit that discovered a stash of FARC cash while searching for the hostages is a story told in parallel to the prisoners’ narratives of abusive treatment. With its Conradian atmosphere of jungle-induced madness and an immediacy stemming from interviews with many of the participants, this will engage all who follow Colombian politics. --Gilbert Taylor

Review

“Amazing...Mesmerizing....[John] Otis has assembled a yarn that would make a magical realist blush, complete with outlandish characters, tragicomic twists of fate, and far-flung deeds of derring-do.... Riveting.” (Boston Globe)

“Compelling...Wild.” (New York Post)

“Law of the Jungle is a well-reported, highly informative account of the chase, which was undertaken largely by the Colombian army....[A] thriller-opera of a story....Otis’s story rises beyond ordinary reporting: He manages to condense recent Colombian history into a clear, digestible narrative.” (Washington Post)

“Gripping and funny...[Otis] tells an amazing story in his first book....Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell were finally freed during the summer of 2008, and Otis tells their story in the sort of rich detail you’d expect of an experienced print journalist.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“With its Conradian atmosphere of jungle-induced madness and an immediacy stemmingfrom interviews with many of the participants, this will engage all...” (Booklist)

“An impossible-to-put-down read with as many twists and turns as a summer blockbuster.... Otis, a journalist who has worked in Latin America for more than 20 years, skillfully weaves this incredible tale of attempted—and eventually successful—rescue by Colombian soldiers....Fascinating.” (Very Short List)

“Has the feel of a John Huston movie, with its mix of tragedy, intrigue, black comedy and, ultimately, heroism....fascinating. (BookPage)

More About the Author

Born in Minnesota, John Otis has worked as a reporter in Central and South America for more than two decades, and served for eight years as South America Bureau Chief for the Houston Chronicle. His 2001 investigation of Colombia's FARC guerrillas was honored by the Overseas Press Club as the best reporting out of Latin America. He now reports from Colombia for Time, GlobalPost and PRI's The World radio program. He lives in Bogota. Law of the Jungle is his first book.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ted on March 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Law of the Jungle is a great read- it really lays out the complex web of narco-politics in Colombia through the story of three "gringos" shot down over the jungle interwoven with the strange adventure of the Colombian Special forces team who were sent to find the Americans. The story would be difficult to believe if it were not true- and that is the common thread through out the novel.
I have often wondered the back story of the whole war on drugs- especially as it has played out in Colombia, Law of the Jungle brought me up to speed in a thoughtful and entertaining way.
The author's in depth knowledge of latin america, both culturally as well as politically show through in the narrative, Mr. Otis should continue writing on this subject, I can't wait for his next book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By rightway on June 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good documentation and entertaining read on Colombia's narco guerrillas and the American hostages. Would also recommend "Out of Captivity" written by the three American hostages on their ordeal.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eric Kayne on November 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Two friends of mine who worked closely with John Otis in South America in the past told me about this book and I had also heard about it on a radio interview here in Houston.

Otis brilliantly weaves the lives of three Americans held hostage in the jungles of Columbia against a backdrop of global politics, buried treasure and a harrowing rescue. The book narratively clarifies the conflict between the government of Columbia and the FARC. A real page-turner, this is a good book for a long plane ride or a bedside book good for pre-sleep adventures.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tyler Bridges on August 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I was familiar with the overall story. But with incisive reporting, Otis brought the entire story alive and made me want to keep reading to the end. I knew how the story would come out, but Otis made me want to see how. I especially liked his details on the climactic hostage rescue.

I read the book during a couple of flights. It's a good, quick read. The book has a good mix of background material that doesn't slow the overall story.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R Lawrence on May 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
John Otis wrestles successfully with a complicated subject that remains largely ignored by most of the world - outside Colombia. Complex stories require reader patience, and this one was hard to crack - which I think caused another reviewer to down-rate the book. I learned a great deal about the FARC, Colombian politics and government since the 1970s. The tales of three American contractors, and of Ingrid Betancourt, bookend sad stories of the hundreds and thousands who have suffered at the hands of Colombia's right, left, and center. Otis's book explores and enlightens, approaching a crescendo in the last ten chapters that kept me up reading late until I finished.
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