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Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields Hardcover – March 1, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; First Edition edition (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568584490
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568584492
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #206,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Just across the Rio Grande from El Paso sits Juárez, Mexico, a city so overtaken with the violence of drug trafficking that its leading citizens—police, politicians, even the drug lords—find it safer to live in El Paso. Bowden, critically acclaimed author of Some of the Dead Are Still Breathing (2009), details the forces that have led to Mexico’s place in the multinational drug business. Hundreds of millions of dollars flow into Juárez each week, and the violence and corruption that follow yield 200 to 300 murders each year. Bowden laments the silence on both sides of the border that permits the slaughter that goes mostly unnoted and unreported. Behind the numbers, he details the lives lost or destroyed: a reporter fleeing for his life with his young son, a beautiful woman gang-raped, a killer for the cartels who is now being hunted. He chronicles a town that has been the site of numerous mass graves of victims and of monuments to fallen police that bear hit lists from the cartels. A stark, haunting look at the impact of drug trafficking on a town and its people. --Vanessa Bush

About the Author

Charles Bowden, the recipient of a Lannan Literary Award and the Sidney Hillman Award, is the critically acclaimed author of numerous books, including Down by the River and Some of the Dead Are Still Breathing. He is a contributing editor for GQ and Mother Jones, and also writes for Harper-s, the New York Times Book Review, Esquire, and Aperture. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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Customer Reviews

Unfortunately this book never gets there.
C. Lyons
Readers who enjoy writers like Truman Capote, Michael Herr, and Mark Bowden will love this book.
zendawg
Read this book and you will discover why.
Robert Stevenson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

102 of 104 people found the following review helpful By D. E. Ford on April 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If the angels ever visited Juarez looking for the proverbial one good man, I'm afraid they'd either be kidnapped, murdered, or probably both before their search was over.

In his dark, non-fiction novel, Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields, Charles Bowden takes you by the hand and gives a guided tour of one of the lower hells that's just across the border from El Paso, Texas.

On your journey through this third-world dystopia, you travel to an impoverished insane asylum out in the desert ran by El Pastor, who collects from the streets of Juarez those whose lives were shattered by torture, drugs, gang rape, and a host of other horrors. From there you'll visit the "death houses" where underneath floors and patios the anonymous dead wait to be found. You'll cruise the streets at dawn to find the bodies bound with silver and gray duct tape at hands, feet, and mouth, deposited the night before. You'll also meet a sicario, an assassin, who speaks of his childhood, his time in the Mexican state police and the FBI academy, and finally his plunge into "the life" where he has since racked up over 250 murders becoming a highly sought after "murder artist".

At each point on your journey, Bowden stops and makes you look, he makes you bear witness as he has done for almost 20 years, to the unacknowledged, unreported disintegration of not only a city, but of an entire country.

From the nearly ubiquitous corruption in all branches of the Mexican government, military, and police forces to the members of drug cartels living like kings surrounded by grinding poverty to American factories paying starvation wages, Bowden drags it all into the light for us to see.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At the time I am writing this, there was only one other review, which gave the book a two-star rating. After finishing the Kindle edition,I have to say that I feel the other rating is unfair. At first I agreed with the other reviewer- and I had really wanted to like this book, after hearing a very moving interview with the author on NPR. The narrative in the beginning feels disjointed, and I found the constant references to "Miss Sinaloa" to be annoying. But stay with it, the book draws you in. As I read farther, I really began to understand how "Miss Sinaloa" is a metaphor for the City; she is beautiful, but insane and terribly damaged. And, in the end, the Author's imagining of an "Our Town" type play with the Sinaloa murder vicims as characters moved me to tears. I don't know if all the readers will agree with the author about some of the underlying reasons for the murders, but the book is interesting, provacitive- and worth reading.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Jon M. Lennon on April 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Wow Mr Bowden's book floored me, I couldn't put the thing down I finished it in about 3 days. I imagine some people will have problems with Bowden's style, he writes about his experiences in a non-linear way sometimes repeating small fragments I believe the style reinforces the chaotic life he experienced in Juarez. Instead of trying to give us the who's who of cartels and connections Bowden's premise is that the killings are illustrative not of a break down of society but of a new form largely without rhyme or reason. This book is about the future and the ability of people to live with the world collapsing around them. Excellent highly reccomended!
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By C. P. Schober on April 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wouldn't characterize Bowden's writing so much as monotonous but rather as relentless in a notable effort to describe the endless chaos that is Juarez. I had the feeling that if Cormac McCarthy turned to journalism, Murder City would be the result. Beneath all of the coverage of Juarez is the lurking apprehension that someday this could be the US of A. Murder City is a story of the pursuit of wealth and the measures people will take to preserve and protect that wealth. It is also a story of the complicity of the USA in perpetuating the chaos that is Juarez. Nothing occurs in isolation.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By zendawg on April 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Bowden shows the nightmare that is Ciudad Juarez in vivid, beautiful prose. He is one of the most talented contemporary writers in any genre. Readers who enjoy writers like Truman Capote, Michael Herr, and Mark Bowden will love this book.
While the governments and elites of the US and Mexico pretend to be fighting a war on drugs the Mexican government and army are in fact fighting a war for drugs. Juarez is more dangerous than Baghdad or Mogadishu, and it takes great courage for any journalist to go there and witness and then tell the truth. Bowden has great compassion for the citizens of Juarez who are just trying to live their lives in peace and raise their families, living in a hellish city disintegrating into anarchy. Every politician and politician should read this book before presuming to understand the drug trade and illegal immigration. Can they handle the truth?
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39 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Thomas J. Breen on June 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is pitched as an examination of the bloodshed in Ciudad Juarez with a subtitle that implies some macro analytical frame of reference, but it's actually a disjointed account of the author's recent visits to northern Mexico, written in a repetitive pseudo-Beatnik prose that does little to help the narrative.

I think the idea may have been to create something like Roberto Saviano's great book "Gomorrah," which blended reportage, history and impressionistic first-person observations, but "Murder City" falls short of the mark. Anyone looking for even a basic account of what's happening in Mexico is out of luck: Bowden's narrative is studded with facts, assertions and anecdotes that are impossible to verify because he doesn't include things like names, dates or even exact locations. A lot of the stories he presents come off like hyper-violent fables.

It's frustrating, because the book contains interesting ideas. Bowden asserts that Juarez, instead of an example of a city backsliding into chaos, is a prototypical metropolis of the new global economy, but he spends no effort elaborating or explaining or developing that thesis; he just repeats some variation of "This is the future" dozens of times.

He's also arrogantly dismissive of virtually every other attempt to explain or understand Juarez, implying that he alone possesses the ability to truthfully explain what's happening there, although his prose his so obtuse and he's so unwilling to explain his ideas that this claim amounts to nothing more than idle boasting.

It pains me to give a bad review to a book that obviously involved a lot of work and that clearly bears good intentions, but this was just a disappointment on every level.
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