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Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns, and Guerrillas Paperback – October 22, 2002
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Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book it's about the corrido, it is not a political document or passes judgements on anyone lifestyle, only when it pertains to the corrido itself then he goes and gives you a little taste of the political, social and economic factors that relate to the music and living conditions of the people involved. It is a great research job very well done and estremely informative, specially for the novice in this kind of music. A winner!
In keeping with its traditions, the corrido in recent years evolved a new sub-genre which mythologizes the drug trafficker -- most vividly, through the figure of the singer Chalino Sánchez, whose violent career and death is central to the story.
Despite the book's name, it's about the world of music, not drugs. Though the narcocorrido phenomenon is thoroughly explored, the book is more than that. Wald is an experienced journalist who knows how to write a readable story. His comprehension of the culture is solid, and his narrative is entertaining and well-structured. He did a lot of his research hitchhiking around Mexico, and his personal narrative as investigator / questioner / outsider is deftly interwoven into the history and geography of the corrido.
If there were a prize for books of popular musicology this would be a strong contender. It has to be one of the best books on music published in the U.S. in 2001.
There are so many big things wrong with this book that I'm not going to even bother with its minor factual errors. First of all, one of the most obvious aspects of corridos is their extremely similar melodies and ways of ending. (Play the last 5 seconds of every song on a Tucanes corrido album to hear what I mean.) If you think you're going to get answers about where the melodies or chords came from, or why nearly all corrido practitioners conform to this musical norm, this book will disappoint.
If you want to know what women think of the glorification of violence and crime, or wonder why the only marginally famous female corridista is a Chicana, you will also be disappointed. Wald unquestioningly goes along with the relegation of Mexican women to ornamental roles, noticeable for their age and looks but not valued for their opinions.
Wald is simply not enough of an investigative reporter to challenge his sources. In his introduction, he actually says of his interview subjects: "I hope they are happy with the way I have described...them." They should be; he largely echoes their world view. Someone unfamiliar with the U.S. would get the idea from this book that we are uniformly blond-haired, blue-eyed intolerant quasi-fascists. While many corrido composers' commentaries on "gringos" are tainted by the fact that they know none, Wald could have provided a reality check. But the only non-Latino Americans he gives props to are Bill Clinton and himself.
His eagerness to play press agent for the corridistas results in an unfair attack on the Latin Grammys, which Wald criticizes for not airing enough regional Mexican acts on its CBS telecast. One of the chief crybabies of that episode was Los Tigres del Norte's polka king Jorge Hernandez, who after 33 years of living in this country, speaks only broken English and has never shown an iota of interest in selling to the English-speaking market. And this guy is entitled to appear on prime time instead of artists who crack the Hot 100, record modern rhythms, sing in more than one language and work to market themselves internationally? I wonder if Wald is aware that N'Sync with its "Yo Te Voy a Amar" is far more likely to appear on Latin American TV than Brooks & Dunn with their "Steers and Stripes." Wald disses Emilio Estefan and Sony as a "mafia," as if Los Tigres' label FonoVisa had never been a monopoly or wasn't backed by Mexico's huge media conglomerate Televisa. Going easy on the company that's putting out your book's companion CD might seem savvy, but it's really a disservice to the readers.
He also engages in the most callous revisionism of the 1992 L.A. riots I've ever read, claiming it was the "rich folks' city" that burned, and labeling the largely minority- and ironically immigrant-owned shops that got trashed as "wealthy businesses." Not even Michael Moore was that naïve, imploring the looters: "But this time, for the love of God, don't burn your own neighborhoods!" Oh, and Wald fails to mention that people--a lot of people--got killed.
Still, this book deserves two stars because Wald did interesting legwork, hitchhiking all over Mexico and seeking out leads. Also priceless is the way everyone in Culiacan has a different theory on why Chalino Sanchez was slain. However if you like real reporting and lucid analysis, you'd do better to check out Sam Quiñones' "True Tales From Another Mexico."