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Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields Paperback – March 22, 2011


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Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields + Down by the River: Drugs, Money, Murder, and Family + El Sicario: The Autobiography of a Mexican Assassin
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (March 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568586450
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568586458
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,951 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Charles Bowden is a contributing editor for GQ and Mother Jones; he also writes for Harper's, the New York Times Book Review, and Esquire. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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Customer Reviews

Read this book and you will discover why.
Robert Stevenson
We owe a debt of gratitude to Charles Bowden for setting the record straight that we can't set the record straight in Juarez.
James L. Breithaupt
The second author is an undisciplined, pretentious "creative writer" who writes bad books like Desierto.
A Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

106 of 108 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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51 of 54 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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37 of 39 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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25 of 27 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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25 of 29 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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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By J. Bosiljevac on May 5, 2010
Format: Audio CD
This is a twisted mess of a book, convoluted and poetic, some wild mix of Jack Kerouac and Raymond Chandler and Truman Capote and something much pulpier. The writing is fantastic, with chilling metaphors that fit perfectly the madness in Juarez.

There are no simple answers for the situation there. A perfect storm of systemic corruption, trade politics, globalization, illegal drugs, poverty and gang violence have created a city where drug smuggling, murder and illegal human trafficking is less about a morality and more about opportunity. The only opportunity. Even the low-wage factories, the maquiladoras, where many in Juarez have traditionally made their un-livable living, are closing down as companies take their business overseas to even cheaper labor markets like China. As a result, there is no hope in Juarez, a city that is more dangerous than Iraq. In this city that is visible from El Paso, Texas, it is not uncommon for a dozen people to be killed in a day. For bodies to be found half-buried in the desert, arms and mouths bound with duct tape, doused in gasoline and burned. For bodies to be found wrapped in plastic, decapitated. For young women and girls to disappear and be found weeks later, raped, murdered. For the corrupt police to show up and block off a street for the corrupt army, who arrives, rounds up a group of people, systematically executes them and then leaves. For reporters who take the wrong photos or ask the wrong questions to be disappeared. For children to be caught in the crossfire as their parents are gunned down. To find bodies with hundreds of rounds in them. To find bodies of people who were tortured for days. To find "death houses," where under the floorboards lie dozens rotting bodies of anonymous Mexicans. And all the while, in the U.S.
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