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Hostage Nation: Colombia's Guerrilla Army and the Failed War on Drugs Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 10, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this thrilling account of the origins and workings of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), Bruce (No Apparent Reason), Hayes, and Botero, all codirectors and coproducers of the documentary Held Hostage in Colombia, marshal years of research into the guerrilla group, the Colombian drug trade, and the story of three American private contractors and Ingrid Betancourt, a Colombian presidential candidate, held captive by the FARC from 2003 to 2008. FARC™s history is expertly interwoven into a narrative that includes intimate details of the lives of the hostages, their families back home, and those who worked for their release. But the authors™ real achievement is their objectivity--no book published in the U.S. in the last decade details the activities of the FARC, the Colombian and U.S. military, the flailing war on drugs, and President Alvaro Uribe™s administration in such a well-rounded and unbiased way, covering recent history from so many perspectives--no small feat given the perils of reporting from the region and the polarized views of the FARC as revolutionaries or terrorists, bumbling gangsters or major players.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The authors here profile the FARC, the Colombian Marxist rebels whose power declined precipitously during the recent presidency of hard-liner Alvaro Uribe. From a summary of the FARC’s origins, sketches of its leaders, and description of its self-financing via drug trafficking and kidnapping, which plagued Colombia for decades, the authors launch their narrative’s main story line: the FARC’s seizure of politician Ingrid Betancourt, their later kidnapping of three Americans conducting surveillance operations (FARC summarily murdered two other operatives), and the attention the hostages’ plight drew from the outside world. Author Jorge Enrique Botero was a Colombian journalist whom FARC permitted to film the hostages. They despised Botero for that (see Out of Captivity, by Marc Gonsalves, 2009); nevertheless, Botero’s role as a participant, which Botero justifies as facilitating a negotiated release, is recorded here. But that intention was trumped by the Colombian army’s spectacular 2008 rescue of the hostages (also recounted in Law of the Jungle, by John Otis, 2010). Readers inquisitive about the FARC will benefit from the authors’ informative investigation. --Gilbert Taylor
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (August 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307271153
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307271150
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,676,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gary W. Noesner on August 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hostage Nation provides readers with critical examination of the FARC, how it functions, how it's activities disrupt an entire nation, and how it's hostage taking shatters individual lives. In the midst of these larger issues is the plight of three American defense contractors engaged in the war against drugs in Colombia. Their hostage ordeal calls into question the very purpose and effectiveness of the U.S. government's initiatives in that country. It often seemed as though the U.S. government's larger policy objectives took precedence over efforts to secure the safe and timely release of the three men. Hostage Nation provides a unique look into the cooperative and sometimes conflicting perspectives of the victim families, the employer of the hostages, and the government. Exposing the multiple layers of the relationships involved provides the reader with an unprecedented look into the process of responding to a kidnapping where political implications abound. Hostage Nation is a must read for anyone interested in Colombia, the FARC, the war on drugs, the use of military contrators, and the counterterrorism efforts of the U.S. government overseas. This well researched and well written book is hard to put down.
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Format: Hardcover
Beyond the kidnapping of Ingrid Betancourt and three American contractors, Hostage Nation pulls you into the lives and terror of every day people in Colombia and the experience of living in a nation with an ongoing 'civil' war with a terrorist organization. It details the fear, horror, and uncertainty of life in a nation that is being held hostage by an organization like the FARC, by telling the stories of individuals directly involved with the kidnappings. The ordeals of the hostages and their captors pull you in, as every story illustrates how they all want the best for their country yet the nation is unable to reconcile the issues that motivate people to join such a terrorist organization. From abject poverty to Marxist idealogy to lucrative drug money and the US government response, the story winds its way around the kidnappings and makes you feel for a nation that has so much to overcome. A truly great read.
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Format: Hardcover
Bruce, Hayes, and Botero have channeled their first-hand experience of Colombia's conflict into a compelling summary of the country's decades of strife. The conflict between the FARC and government, fueled by drug profits, forms the spine of this story, which is brought to life through personal testimonies and narratives. The indifference of the United States government and its unsuccessful war on drugs and lackluster efforts to tackle the kidnappings are helpful in providing a greater understanding of the conflict, but fortunately do not dominate what is ultimately a Colombian story. By covering several kidnappings from their inception to their conclusion, 'Hostage Nation' provides a steady, well-rounded account of this horrific practice. It's hard not to be at angered at the civilian casualties brought on by this conflict, to be horrified by the impact of the kidnappings on those stolen and on their families, or to feel ashamed for not demanding action. Congratulations to the authors on their courage and perseverance in telling this important story.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is very well written, Hostage Nation is an excellent book with not only detailed information about not only the Guerrilla movement in Columbia, but also the drug policies followed by both Columbian and American Governments, but educated the reader on the covert drug war that is being waged today. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants accurate, factual information regarding FARC; the hostage situation involving three American private contractors, Columbia's corrupt government officials as well as the government's association with the two biggest drug cartels of that time, and America's failed war on drugs. This book arrived quickly and in the condition the seller described it to be in.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read "Out of Captivity" and found the book hard to put down as a gripping personal tale of three long term hostages. I found this book a very well researched tome which fills in a lot of the questions I had after reading "Out of Captivity." It is written by reporters so it does a good job of covering the details of the hostage taking by the FARC and is well documented in its facts.
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