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Showing 1-10 of 253 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 454 reviews
on October 21, 2015
I loved this book. Perhaps not told as well as Black Hawk Down but still very good. Probably it has a lot to do with the fascinating subject. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the subject matter.
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on May 27, 2017
Mark Bowden has successfully written an accurate account of the life and death of Pablo Escobar in a way that mesmerizes. It reads like a suspense novel and captures the reader's attention from start to finish. One must frequently remind oneself that the violence and horror of the drug traffic trade in South America was, and is, both real and terrifying. Congratulations, Mr. Bowden, on your in-depth research and account of one of the most influential and corrupt individuals of the 20th century.
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on December 2, 2016
The book starts with a general narrative of the background of the Andean cocaine trafficking world which was at one point largely run by Pablo Escobar. That's Part one which provides some very useful information. Part two goes into specific actions taken to bring Pablo Escobar in dead. We learn that some of what you see in Narcos is simply not true such as Escobar firing guns while much is confirmed. It's an engrossing story and Bowden's writing makes it easy reading. I enjoyed and would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the life and death of Pablo Escobar.
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VINE VOICEon February 25, 2017
I was inspired to read this book which n I learned it was the inspiration for the Netflix series Narcos. The book covers the true events in Escobar's life. A man who grew up as a bully and used that bullying to create an enormously wealthy drug cartel, which became more powerful than the Colombian government and US money, weapons, and military help could buy. Very pleased I chose to read this book.
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on July 21, 2017
Mark Bowden, especially in the early days, knew how to keep his audience engaged! I was a child when the Pablo Escobar hunt was going on but I remember hearing about his death in the news. The entire background to it was absolutely fascinating!
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on July 18, 2013
I'm old enough to remember and understand very well the hunting down and killing of the infamous Pablo Escobar, head of the Medellin cartel. Mark Bowden is an author who knows how to engage his reader into a reporting story. He picks great topics, which helps, but the arch of the story, the people, the level of detail are all expertly handled. Bowden strikes me as one of those authors who can take a story you think you have little interest in and make you interested.

The story in Killing Pablo is straightforward: The rise of Pablo Escobar, the efforts of the Colombian government to capture him, the ever increasing interest of the United States, beginning with President Ronald Reagan, in Escobar as a part of the war on drugs, and the use of technology that kept Escobar on the run and eventually led to his being found and killed by a special Colombian police force. The story of the rise and fall of a criminal cartel.

Escobar began building his cocaine empire in the early 1970s and was fabulously wealthy by the late 70s. He was listed several times as one of the richest men in the world with homes and property scattered across the globe. At its height, the Medellin cart was exporting cocaine into the US in stripped down 727s, feeding the cocaine craze of the 1980s. Escobar did not create his wealth by being nice. While charismatic, humorous, and often stoned man was remembered as quiet by many that encountered him (leading to the frequent inability to match the man to his crimes), Escobar and his cohorts were brutal. If bribery did not work, kidnappings and murder were easy choices. The apartments of police officers were bombed, the families of journalists were kidnapped and killed, their bodies messages. Over and over again, Bowden tells the story of men and women assigned to track down or deal with Escobar who are murdered--men and women supposedly assigned to the task in great secret. Escobar's reach, particularly in Medellin was vast. Later, as the hunt narrows in on Escobar, the police task force created to hunt down Escobar, Search Bloc, realizes that one of their officers guarding an entrance to its offices, overhears orders for raids, warns Escobar, who eludes the authority's grasp yet again.

The Colombian government is wracked by inefficiency, bureaucratic infighting, corruption, and fear. Escobar always seems to escape their clutches because the government simply cannot get its act together. However, what is surprising is that so many did pursue Escobar when he demonstrated time and again an ability to kill them or their family members with impunity. Bowden notes several times where a dozen police are killed in a day. Presidential candidates, judges, lawyers, and journalists perish over and over again. Yet, they trudged on, and Colombia has its heroes in the search for justice.

With Reagan's war on drugs and then the bombing of the Avianca Flight 203, conducted by Escobar in an attempt to kill a Colombian presidential candidate, were two turning points in this hunt. Reagan's focus allowed for the first active engagement of the US in Colombia by way of a top-secret Army signals surveillance group called, at the time, Centra Spike, along with CIA and DEA participants as well. Centra Spike's primary abilities rested on triangulating communications with ever increasing accuracy (a practice quite easy today...or just use the GPS chip in our smart phones--but a feat of skill and engineering in the 1980s). Centra Spike's role was strictly limited, however. Then the bombing of the Avianca flight allowed President George Bush to classify the hunt for Escobar as a national security issue. Delta Force arrives in Colombia shortly thereafter in a training role for Search Bloc, though rumors persist that Delta Force team members participated actively in raids and even fired the fatal shot on Escobar.

Yet, Escobar eludes them. Over and over again, he narrowly escapes. A paramilitary group called Los Pepes begins destroying Escobar's property and targeting his friends and family. Their goal, keep Escobar from disappearing forever. How much was organized by the US and Colombian governments? Officially, nothing. However, Bowden is an expert at charting the appearance of Los Pepes, which implies the US knew more than it has let on, even if less than the rumors suggest. Regardless, Los Pepes was an extra-legal effort that succeeded. And then...a Colombian officer refining their own signals intelligence in an effort to prove they are just as capable as the Americans, stumbles upon Escobar, who perishes in a gun battle with police. Or did he? He died. That much is known. But...well, read this excellent, immersing book to find out.
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on July 24, 2017
I thoroughly enjoyed this book though it was very frustrating to realize the extent of the corruption that pervaded the Columbian government. I realize the power of money and it's ability to corrupt. But this seemed a story of extremes.
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on April 29, 2014
The book Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw by Mark Bowden retold the life story of Pablo Escobar or El Pàtron or El Doctor- the world's most powerful cocaine dealer. Pablo, as Bowden refers to him, was born and raised in a middle class Colombian family and through his disguised violent acts and public friendly attitude managed to become a very powerful, and wanted man. Bowden follows Escobar’s story while also following the American and Colombian governments that were after him after he escaped from prison. Overall Bowden was able to keep the reader interested in the story and produce a non-fiction book that, while full of facts, was not delivered in a dry manner. Instead he managed to make the story of Pablo Escobar exciting, he painted him as such an animated character that you could very easily grow confusing feelings for and want to know his story. By telling Pablo’s story and what he did Bowden tries to prove that Pablo’s ambition is what ultimately destroyed him.
Pablo grew up in a lower middle class family in Colombia in the late 1940’s. He never graduated high school as a teenager he started out his business as a cocaine dealer, he himself rarely doing it, mildly drinking and smoking marijuana. To assert his dominance Pablo used violence, he never let it trace back to him. Bowden explains this in a very interesting manner he says Pablo “was a vicious thug, but he had a social conscience. He was a brutal crime boss but also a politician with a genuinely high winning personal style” (Bowden 15). The way in which Bowden phrases this bring up the question: would we have fallen for Pablo’s charm? This obviously makes us want to keep reading. Later on we see Pablo’s image work on the Colombian people. While imprisoned Pablo admitted to planting dynamite in a city “The press always found out, of course, and the story would come across as a munificent gesture by the imprisoned, reformed Don Pablo” (Bowden 114). The message would not have come from the “reformed Don Pablo” if the people hated him it would have come from the ‘terrible Pablo’ if the people actually did feel as though he was a completely bad man. Pablo was able to make a very comfortable living and yet he wanted more from the public.
Pablo eventually turned himself in to the Colombian Government and acted as though it was his hotel. When Pablo entered the prison, that he had helped make, he became in charge of his imprisonment. “The prison guards were no more than Pablo’s employees, and the army checkpoints just waved Pablo’s trucks through” (Bowden 110) Here Bowden shows us the power that Pablo managed to possess. Bowden then says that “Pablo, for instance, did not feel obliged to actually stay” (Bowden 111). Pablo had enough power over his imprisonment that he didn’t really have to stay in the prison. Through all of this Bowden puts the idea in our heads that all Pablo was powerful but he was always pushing to see if he could do more (i.e. be a prisoner but not actually stay, instead go to a soccer match).
Throughout the story Bowden states that Pablo’s ambition is what ultimately held him back. Bowden says at the very start of the book, within the first chapter, “A man of lesser ambition might still be alive, rich, powerful, and living well and openly in Medellín. But Pablo wanted to be admired. He wanted to be respected. He wanted to be loved.” (Bowden 15) Bowden always brings up how Pablo tried to win the public over, that was his way of showing how Pablo stepped the line and got overwhelmed by his ambition. Pablo would not be able to be rich and powerful and loved by the public, especially in the way that he made his money. After Pablo escaped from prison he was still fairly pleased with himself. In fact Bowden thinks Pablo “also felt some pride…after so much carnage, so many millions spent to hunt him down, he was still alive, and still at large” (Bowden 237) Pablo liked that so much attention was being placed on him, and he wanted more which is why he continued to risk so much while on the run. One day he managed to risk too much and was shot.
Bowden is trying to prove throughout the whole book that Pablo Escobar let his ambition get in his way. The way in which Bowden proves this is very interesting he shows you the human side of Pablo and shows you how deep down he just wanted to be loved and respected. This different manner of approaching a criminal is what makes Killing Pablo unique and interesting.
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on September 10, 2017
Fascinated by the whole drug cartel thing. How people live, lavishly and at the same time, ruthless. Great book for me and couldn't put it down. Don't really like writing reviews so keeping it quick and simple.
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on June 2, 2001
With greed the motivator and a desire to feed an ego even bigger than the man himself, Pablo Escobar's reign of terror was bound to fall. People like him have their zenith of fame and then the inevitable decline begins. I enjoyed reading the book, but some parts of it got too complicated as far as modern technology goes in locating wherever Pablo happened to be. However, that's my fault, not the autor's. Those working to bring down Pablo, could never be sure who was on his payroll. The words "thug" and "sociopath" both seem to apply towards Escobar. He could speak calmly on the telephone with family members while the screams of those he was having tortured could be heard in the background. The fact that he is gone is a benefit to humankind.
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