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on May 8, 2016
This is a really well written and interesting book. Contrary to some reviews, I do not find that the text is disorganized- it seems to retain its cohesion throughout the book. I particularly enjoyed the history of narcotics trafficking in Mexico that the author provided. It is amazing and frighening that these cartels have managed to do what they have done in Mexico.
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on January 12, 2016
This is a great book for anyone who wants to learn more about the Mexican drug war, it's development, growth, and the consequences of it. Overall I would rate this book 3.5 stars out of 5. This book was very well organized and very thorough. It tells you everything you would want to know about Mexico's drug war. And let me make this clear it is not just Mexico's drug war. It is the United States, Columbia plus quite a few other countries' drug war. The war may be in Mexico's territory but it is not just them alone in it. This book is an eye-opener what you think you know about this topic, there is so much more to know. This is not a simple operation, it is like a very complex spider's web. This book brings forth all the influential factors that fostered the development of the drug trade, and the factors that helped it grow to what it is today. This book delves deep in the roots of the drug trade and war itself. It will definitely provide answers to your questions of why? and how? This book will shock you, surprise you, it will make you angry, frustrated and sad.
This book is about people, how innocent people's lives are affected by the drug war. It will tell you who the victims are, and who is to blame. It goes on to show that your actions are not your own, how what you do affects the community around you. It shows how society is an interconnected web. One of the things I most liked about this book, was that I was able to understand some of the "bad guys" why they did what they did. I am not in anyway condoning, or approving of their actions. I like it when I am able to see both sides of the coin.
Some things that could have been changed in this book, is that I felt it needed to be more personal, to have more human interest stories backing up the information presented. The tone in which this book was told was more in a "matter of fact" kind of way. It just felt that something was missing, like it needed more gut to the story. The tone of the story needed more emotion. Don't get me wrong this book was emotional it just needed more.
All said and done I did like this book, it was an excellent well-done book, and the perfect book to read to learn more about the Mexican drug war.
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on February 14, 2017
At times the chapters felt longer than they needed to be, but the information was still so well researched and so necessary for the reader. The truth about this book is that it misses nothing. Everything you need to know is there.
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on April 5, 2016
Excellent book on the culture and origins of the Mexican drug cartels. It is particularly interesting now that the violence in Mexico has subsided. In the past two years I have been to Juarez (as a gringo) and have heard first hand some stories from locals about the violence at its peak. After reading the book I have a firm grasp of what contributes to today's peace...and why it is so fragile.
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on March 4, 2013
I had my first trip to Mexico last summer to the resort city of Mazaltan in the state of Sinoloa. I had no clue the center of the violence that has plagued Mexico for so many years had it's origins in Sinoloa. It's a heartbreaking story and one that Ioan Grillo points out seemingly has no easy way out. It was disconcerting to be in a beach city and see the military driving up and down the main street 24/7 in open trucks, armed to the teeth but this book points out that it is "business as usual" in much of Mexico. Will I got back to Mazaltan after reading this book? Probably, but with a much more wary eye on the small barrios along the road during the 45 minute ride to the airport.
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on April 20, 2014
this book is full of factual information and should be required reading by all political parties currently in power. it is hard to comprehend the suffering of the people living in Mexico brought on by the cartels and their propensity for violence in their quest to dominate portions of Mexico. Drug wars are killing hundreds of people in Mexico, with the threat of this violence spilling over into the United States. This book should be required reading by anyone running for public office!
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on October 12, 2015
I enjoyed this view of the Mexican drug wars. Starting with a brief history of smuggling in Mexico, which was sorely needed in my case, it was both informative and entertaining at the same time. The author conducted interviews with people on both sides of the drug war in Mexico, and helped me to wrap my head around how things started, and escalated, over the past decade. At times the author referred to the situation as a criminal insurgency, and this book certainly supports that claim.

Was there spin? Absolutely! However, it felt to me that Grillo really wanted to let people know just how bad things are down there, and maybe we should keep an eye on our neighbor to the south. Or we can hope the fighting stays focused in Mexico.
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on April 29, 2016
A well-researched and important investigative work that will lend the casual reader decent insight into what has been happening in the Mexican drug war for quite some time. Given the compelling nature of the subject matter, it was not difficult for me to read through this pretty quickly. That said, the author's writing style is not naturally fluid, and his tendency to make rather abrupt judgments, wishy-washy conjectures, and otherwise use overly casual language was a bit grating. And my God, somebody needs to have done a better job of copy-editing this book. There were an obscene number of typos and grammatical errors.
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on August 16, 2013
If you're interested in the subject, don't think twice about reading this book. For all the labyrinths, convolution, and complexity of the history and status-quo of drug trafficking, the organized and clear writing style make this a five-star read. Grillo provides a multifaceted insight into the history of the drug trade, where Mexico, Columbia, the US and even China are all characters. The account is objective and understanding of the grave effects the subject has on the international socio-political and economic level.
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on March 30, 2013
This book was fascinating. In fact, I felt it was a real page-turner, which is hard to find in a documentary-style book. I wanted to read it in order to better informed about the drug cartels. I am an American who has been working and living in Mexico for almost 6 years, and this book seemed very well-researched, well-written, and covered a variety of topics. What I particularly liked was that it would thoroughly but interestingly cover one aspect of the drug trade and then start on another; so instead of just reading bits and pieces or reading for a while and maybe or maybe not coming back to it later (as I am somewhat of a "book surfer," reading several books at the same time), I totally finished it quickly and without reading another while I was reading this one. That rarely happens, and I now feel much better informed than before. I never got the feeling the book was sensationalized or biased but rather very intelligently written. Especially fascinating were the historical aspects of the drug trade in Sinaloa and how Mexico took over much of Colombia's cocaine trade. I highly recommend the book El Narco.
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