I’m a few weeks away from my first trip to Colombia. I am super excited about this trip and wanted to read up a little on the country and its history. There is no more famous Colombian than Pablo Escobar, so I thought this book would be a good place to start.
Here is a little more on this 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 Ceasr 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
This book is a very straight forward look at the manhunt for Pablo Escobar. Bowden has zeroed in on a very short time period for the majority of the book, 1989-1993, and is looking at the downfall of Escobar and the different groups and individuals that made his assassination possible.
The book is dealing with very complex issues, however Bowden barely skims the surface of the contradictions and hypocrisies that are throughout this book. While Escobar was no doubt a villian and a terrorist, the same can be said of the actions by both the US and Colombian governments, something Bowden glosses over.
The book is jammed packed with facts and details about the process of finding and killing Escobar, Bowden does little analysis of this information. It is as if he is relying on the sheer amount of detail to hide from having to grapple with the problematic elements of this story. There are issues at play, related to race and world policing, that would have added a nice layer to this book. Instead, this book feels as if it barely scratches the surface of all that could be said. Killing Pablo is an in depth and well researched look at exactly what happened, it does not go into detail about the much more interesting, why, and how it continues to happen.
If you’re a fan of The Narcos Series, you may enjoy this book. The show uses this book as some of its main source materials. However I feel that the show is more exciting and engaging than I found this book. It is also worth reading if you are interested in Colombia, mostly to get a sense of how their government functioned in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
If you do pick it up, let me know what you think in the comments.
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (July 14, 2015)
- 2/5 stars
- Buy Killing Pablo on Amazon
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