Books to read if you love Narcos

It's not about the crime, it's about how far can you push the system,
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El Narco: Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency

by Ioan Grillo

About the book:  The world has watched, stunned, the bloodshed in Mexico. Forty thousand murdered since 2006; police chiefs shot within hours of taking office; mass graves comparable to those of civil wars; car bombs shattering storefronts; headless corpses heaped in town squares. And it is all because a few Americans are getting high. Or is it part of a worldwide shadow economy that threatens Mexico's democracy? The United States throws Black Hawk helicopters, DEA assistance, and lots of money at the problem. But in secret, Washington is at a loss. Who are these mysterious figures who threaten Mexico's democracy? What is El Narco?El Narco is not a gang; it is a movement and an industry drawing in hundreds of thousands, from bullet-riddled barrios to marijuana-covered mountains. The conflict spawned by El Narco has given rise to paramilitary death squads battling from Guatemala to the Texas border (and sometimes beyond). In this "propulsive ... high-octane" book (Publishers Weekly), Ioan Grillo draws the first definitive portrait of Mexico's cartels and how they have radically transformed in the past decade.


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To Die in Mexico

by John Gibler

About the book:  "Gibler is something of a revelation, having been living and writing from Mexico for a range of progressive publications only since 2006, but providing reflections, insights, and a level of understanding worthy of a veteran correspondent."—Latin American Review of BooksCombining on-the-ground reporting and in-depth discussions with people on the frontlines of Mexico's drug war, To Die in Mexico tells behind-the-scenes stories that address the causes and consequences of Mexico's multibillion dollar drug trafficking business. John Gibler looks beyond the myths that pervade government and media portrayals of the unprecedented wave of violence now pushing Mexico to the breaking point.


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The Sound of Things Falling

by Juan Gabriel Vásquez

About the book:  * National Bestseller and winner of the 2014 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award* Hailed by Edmund White as "a brilliant new novel" on the cover of the New York Times Book Review* Lauded by Jonathan Franzen, E. L. Doctorow and many others From a global literary star comes a prize-winning tour de force – an intimate portrayal of the drug wars in Colombia.Juan Gabriel Vásquez has been hailed not only as one of South America’s greatest literary stars, but also as one of the most acclaimed writers of his generation. In this gorgeously wrought, award-winning novel, Vásquez confronts the history of his home country, Colombia.In the city of Bogotá, Antonio Yammara reads an article about a hippo that had escaped from a derelict zoo once owned by legendary Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. The article transports Antonio back to when the war between Escobar’s Medellín cartel and government forces played out violently in Colombia’s streets and in the skies above. Back then, Antonio witnessed a friend’s murder, an event that haunts him still. As he investigates, he discovers the many ways in which his own life and his friend’s family have been shaped by his country’s recent violent past. His journey leads him all the way back to the 1960s and a world on the brink of change: a time before narco-trafficking trapped a whole generation in a living nightmare.Vásquez is “one of the most original new voices of Latin American literature,” according to Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa, and The Sound of Things Falling is his most personal, most contemporary novel to date, a masterpiece that takes his writing—and his literary star—even higher.


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Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw

by Mark Bowden

About the book:  A tour de force of investigative journalism-Killing Pablo is the story of the violent rise and fall of Pablo Escobar, the head of the Colombian Medellin cocaine cartel. Escobar's criminal empire held a nation of thirty million hostage in a reign of terror that would only end with his death. In an intense, up-close account, award-winning journalist Mark Bowden exposes details never before revealed about the U.S.-led covert sixteen-month manhunt. With unprecedented access to important players—including Colombian president Cisar Gaviria and the incorruptible head of the special police unit that pursued Escobar, Colonel Hugo Martinez-as well as top-secret documents and transcripts of Escobar's intercepted phone conversations, Bowden has produced a gripping narrative that is a stark portrayal of rough justice in the real world.


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The Fight to Save Juárez: Life in the Heart of Mexico's Drug War

by Ricardo C. Ainslie

About the book:  The city of Juárez is ground zero for the drug war that is raging across Mexico and has claimed close to 60,000 lives since 2007. Almost a quarter of the federal forces that former President Felipe Calderón deployed in the war were sent to Juárez, and nearly 20 percent of the country's drug-related executions have taken place in the city, a city that can be as unforgiving as the hardest places on earth. It is here that the Mexican government came to turn the tide. Whatever happens in Juárez will have lasting repercussions for both Mexico and the United States. Ricardo Ainslie went to Juárez to try to understand what was taking place behind the headlines of cartel executions and other acts of horrific brutality. In The Fight to Save Juárez, he takes us into the heart of Mexico's bloodiest city through the lives of four people who experienced the drug war from very different perspectives—Mayor José Reyes Ferriz, a mid-level cartel player's mistress, a human rights activist, and a photojournalist. Ainslie also interviewed top Mexican government strategists, including members of Calderón's security cabinet, as well as individuals within U.S. law enforcement. The dual perspective of life on the ground in the drug war and the "big picture" views of officials who are responsible for the war's strategy, creates a powerful, intimate portrait of an embattled city, its people, and the efforts to rescue Juárez from the abyss.


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Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs

by Johann Hari

About the book:  NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERIt is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned in the United States. On the eve of this centenary, journalist Johann Hari set off on an epic three-year, thirty-thousand-mile journey into the war on drugs. What he found is that more and more people all over the world have begun to recognize three startling truths: Drugs are not what we think they are. Addiction is not what we think it is. And the drug war has very different motives to the ones we have seen on our TV screens for so long.In Chasing the Scream, Hari reveals his discoveries entirely through the stories of people across the world whose lives have been transformed by this war. They range from a transsexual crack dealer in Brooklyn searching for her mother, to a teenage hit-man in Mexico searching for a way out. It begins with Hari's discovery that at the birth of the drug war, Billie Holiday was stalked and killed by the man who launched this crusade--and it ends with the story of a brave doctor who has led his country to decriminalize every drug, from cannabis to crack, with remarkable results.Chasing the Scream lays bare what we really have been chasing in our century of drug war--in our hunger for drugs, and in our attempt to destroy them. This book will challenge and change how you think about one of the most controversial--and consequential--questions of our time.


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Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic

by Sam Quinones

About the book:  Winner of the NBCC Award for General NonfictionNamed on Amazon's Best Books of the Year 2015--Michael Botticelli, U.S. Drug Czar (Politico) Favorite Book of the Year--Angus Deaton, Nobel Prize Economics (Bloomberg/WSJ) Best Books of 2015--Matt Bevin, Governor of Kentucky (WSJ) Books of the Year--Slate.com's 10 Best Books of 2015--Entertainment Weekly's 10 Best Books of 2015 --Buzzfeed's 19 Best Nonfiction Books of 2015--The Daily Beast's Best Big Idea Books of 2015--Seattle Times' Best Books of 2015--Boston Globe's Best Books of 2015--St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Best Books of 2015--The Guardian's The Best Book We Read All Year--Audible's Best Books of 2015--Texas Observer's Five Books We Loved in 2015--Chicago Public Library's Best Nonfiction Books of 2015In 1929, in the blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio, a company built a swimming pool the size of a football field; named Dreamland, it became the vital center of the community. Now, addiction has devastated Portsmouth, as it has hundreds of small rural towns and suburbs across America--addiction like no other the country has ever faced. How that happened is the riveting story of Dreamland. With a great reporter's narrative skill and the storytelling ability of a novelist, acclaimed journalist Sam Quinones weaves together two classic tales of capitalism run amok whose unintentional collision has been catastrophic. The unfettered prescribing of pain medications during the 1990s reached its peak in Purdue Pharma's campaign to market OxyContin, its new, expensive--extremely addictive--miracle painkiller. Meanwhile, a massive influx of black tar heroin--cheap, potent, and originating from one small county on Mexico's west coast, independent of any drug cartel--assaulted small town and mid-sized cities across the country, driven by a brilliant, almost unbeatable marketing and distribution system. Together these phenomena continue to lay waste to communities from Tennessee to Oregon, Indiana to New Mexico.Introducing a memorable cast of characters--pharma pioneers, young Mexican entrepreneurs, narcotics investigators, survivors, and parents--Quinones shows how these tales fit together. Dreamland is a revelatory account of the corrosive threat facing America and its heartland.


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The Cartel (Vintage Crime: Black Lizard)

by Don Winslow

About the book:  A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERWINNER OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEARA New York Times Critics’ Pick * The Seattle Times * The Denver Post * The Washington Post * Publishers Weekly * Amazon * National Post (Toronto) * The Guardian * New Statesman * The Telegraph * The Sunday Times (London) * The Daily Mail * The Mail on SundayIt’s 2004. Adán Barrera, kingpin of El Federación, is languishing in a California federal prison. Ex-DEA agent Art Keller passes his days in a monastery, having lost everything to his thirty-year blood feud with the drug lord. Then Barrera escapes. Now, there’s a two-million-dollar bounty on Keller’s head and no one else capable of taking Barrera down. As the carnage of the drug war reaches surreal new heights, the two men are locked in a savage struggle that will stretch from the mountains of Sinaloa to the shores of Veracruz, to the halls of power in Washington, ensnaring countless others in its wake. Internationally bestselling author Don Winslow's The Cartel is the searing, unfiltered epic of the drug war in the twenty-first century.


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