Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “At the Devil's Table: The Untold Story of the Insider Who Brought Down the Cali Cartel” as Want to Read:
At the Devil's Table: The Untold Story of the Insider Who Brought Down the Cali Cartel
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

At the Devil's Table: The Untold Story of the Insider Who Brought Down the Cali Cartel

4.23  ·  Rating Details ·  579 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
In this riveting and relentless nonfiction thriller, award-winning investigative reporter William C. Rempel tells the harrowing story of former Cali cartel insider Jorge Salcedo, an ordinary man facing an extraordinary dilemma—a man forced to risk everything to escape the powerful and treacherous Cali crime syndicate.

Colombia in the 1990s is a country in chaos, as a weak
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published June 21st 2011 by Random House (first published January 1st 2011)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about At the Devil's Table, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about At the Devil's Table

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 14, 2011 Andres rated it it was amazing
Excellent, true story of the inside working of the Cali Drug Cartel in Colombia, as well as a few highlights of its rival cartel in Medellin, led by Pablo Escobar. The book is an insider's story on the Cali Cartel, covering their war with Pablo Escobar's organization, the infamous gimmicking of the Colombian election won by President Ernesto Samper (thanks to millions of dollars in funding from the drug cartel) and the eventual downfall of the Cali Cartel, orchestrated in great part by the sourc ...more
Glenn Hyman
Oct 30, 2011 Glenn Hyman rated it it was amazing
Highly recommended. I am surely biased, having lived in Cali starting right about the time most of this story winds down. But Rempel is a great storyteller. I read these 325+ pages in a period of a little over 24 hours. It really gives a sense of the level of corruption in Colombia, although this is changing and this country has a great future. The other big impression I have is how this history repeats itself - the Medellin and Cali cartels, and now how drug traficking is centered in Mexico. Th ...more
Drew Danko
Nov 20, 2012 Drew Danko rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My initial thought in purchasing this book was that it would be a slow,dry read , but still educational. But when I started reading it I found it to be gripping and very enlightening. The scary balancing act that the inside informant had to maintain took tremendous courage as his life and that of his family was constantly at risk. The book provides a very informative account of how one of the major cartels in Columbia operated as a business organizaton in relating to its internal and external en ...more
May 15, 2011 Maggie rated it really liked it
This is a very well written and well researched book into one of the drug cartels in Colombia and how one man reluctantly became head of Cali security and how he tried to escape from that life. Along the way it also highlighted how cheap and scary life is there, and illustrated for me how very lucky I am not to live in a country where drugs have totally changed the police force, military, and politics.

Although this book is easy to read because of the construction and excellent writing, it is of
Les Gehman
Apr 13, 2011 Les Gehman rated it it was amazing
Jorge Salcedo has big brass balls. Salcedo became the head of security for the Cali cocaine cartel and gradually was drawn deeper and deeper into the dark, violent side of the cartel. His only possible escape was to bargain with the DEA and betray his cartel bosses. William C. Rempel does a remarkable job in telling this story. He doesn't make Salcedo out to be a hero, but a person who bargained with the devil and lost. I highly recommend this book to anyone wishing to understand the turmoil in ...more
Pickle Farmer
A totally gripping story about an insider to the Cali cartel who became a DEA informant. It says a lot that the informant fears uniformed members of the Colombian state even more than the sicarios, in terms of the risk for exposure. The part where the informant pretends he and the DEA agents are on a homosexual rendezvous in order to deter suspicious Colombian police is a gem of a moment. Also loved the cameo by my parents' former workplace as the ideal informant meeting spot, thanks to its rura ...more
Wesley  Gerrard
Jorge Salcedo signed up to the Cali cartel in order to lead a mission to assassinate Pablo Escobar, head of the rival Medellín cartel and, in Jorge's eyes, a clear and present danger to the people of Colombia. This ex Colombian army professional was a security expert and although the initial mission, with the aid of British mercenaries, was to fail, Jorge embarked on a flourishing career with his Cali cartel bosses, one that would end in betrayal and the fall of the biggest crime syndicate on th ...more
Al Swanson
Jul 01, 2011 Al Swanson rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
First off, I'm reviewing the Kindle edition, should that make any difference to anyone.

I picked up my Kindle earlier this week to find this book. I'd completely forgotten I'd pre-ordered it. I've done that more than a few times lately. I'd just finished two fiction novels and since I have this rule about one fiction - one non-fiction, it was time to read a 'true' book. I'm not 100% convinced this is all true, but it's marketed that way.

Ok, so flash back to the mid-90's. That's when Columbia was
Zohar -
Jul 06, 2011 Zohar - rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
“At the Devil's Table: The Untold Story of the Insider Who Brought Down the Cali Cartel” by William C. Rempel is a non-fiction narrative of the Cali drug cartel in the 1990’s. The book is written in an investigative journalism style.

Jorge Salcedo was an insider of the Cali cartel. He personally saw to the safety of the heads of the family and became their electronic security expert. Mr. Salcedo thinks of himself as noble, he joined the cartel to fight against the notorious and brutal Pablo Escob
Apr 10, 2011 Beth rated it liked it
Recommended to Beth by: publisher newsletter
AT THE DEVIL’S TABLE, nonfiction by William Rempel, reminded me of a book I read a few years ago, KILLING PABLO by Mark Bowden. That book described Pablo Escobar’s control of, literally, everyone in Columbia. His control of the country came as a result of his control of the country’s illegal drug business.

When Escobar encountered opposition, he simply had them killed. Likewise, when he found competition, he had them killed.

AT THE DEVIL’S TABLE describes one of those competing cartels, the Cali
Feb 27, 2014 Marsha rated it it was amazing
Fascinating, nerve-racking, and eye-opening story of Jorge Salcedo: a major in the Columbian army, a talented engineer, and successful businessman. In 1989, the Godfathers of the Cali drug cartel summoned Jorge and asked him to help them kill rival drug lord, Pablo Escobar, of the Medellin cartel. At the time, Escobar's cartel was violently out of control, killing politicians, judges, government ministers, and many innocent bystanders. One of Jorge's best friends, the Minister of Justice, had re ...more
Mar 17, 2013 Barb rated it really liked it
This was an Early Review book. When I heard that I had it, I thought "really, I requested this?" But after receiving it I remembered hearing an interview by the author and how interesting and fascinating it sounded. I must admit that my knowledge of the Columbia drug cartels was pretty much limited to Tom Clancy novels. I had heard of Pable Escobar but new nothing about the Cali Cartel. This is as compelling a read as a Clancy novel, but it is true!. The writing was straight forward because the ...more
Michael Griswold
Jun 21, 2012 Michael Griswold rated it really liked it
William C. Rempel tells the engaging yet frightening story of Jorge Salcedo, a former battery manufacturer turned head of security for the leadership of the Cali Drug Cartel of Columbia. With Rempel's lively and engaged prose the reader feels effectively transported inside of the inner workings of a Columbian drug cartel and the confliction that exists inside of Mr. Salcedo, in that he loves his job as a security man for the Cali Cartel and sees a hopeful future as the security consaultant while ...more
Jul 19, 2012 Noiresque rated it it was amazing
One of the best and most surprising non-fiction books I've read lately.

I heard part of this story on an episode of This American Life, and was intrigued, but incredulous that there could be enough new material to fill out a 300+ page book. I was wrong. The 5+ years that the subject of this book (Jorge Salcedo) spent in the (somewhat reluctant) service of the Cali cartel were chock full of intrigue, violence, plus lots of other interesting details. I was only vaguely aware of the general outline
Jan 05, 2017 Louis rated it really liked it
Shelves: drug-war
Wiliam C Rempel's At the Devil's Table: The Untold Story of the Insider Who Brought Down the Cali Cartel is the story of Jorge Salcedo, a cartel security operative who helped dismantle the Cali cartel. Salcedo worked for the cartel and initially attempted to rationalize his role with an almost idealistic mentality. However, in time he was force to face the reality that the Cali Cartel was no better than the Medellin Cartel and eventually sought the assistance of the DEA.

While Salcedo was no sai
Jul 10, 2011 Ricardo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History lovers, suspense story readers
Not so much an investigative report but rather a narrative of events and situations dating back to the time of the bitter rivalry between the Medellin cartel and the Cali cartel, as told by a very close collaborator of one of the main drug lords of the Cali cartel. This is a very well developed (real life) story that gets momentum as we approach the decisive time when the insider decides to betray and denounce the leaders of the Cali cartel, as well as set up a plan to inform about the cartel's ...more
Apr 10, 2011 Sean rated it it was amazing
Excellent insider's story of the Cali cartel. The first part tells how Jorge Salcedo joined the cartel in hopes of taking down their rival, Pablo Escobar, which he felt would be a huge duty to Columbia. It covers the inner workings of the cartel and Columbia corruption as he soon gets in too deep, realizing even the "good" cartel is putting him in legal and moral jeopardy. The 2nd half turns into a tense thriller as he tries to get out alive. A fascinating story of a world where money and power ...more
Nov 26, 2014 Leila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Intriguing, heart-stopping, suspenseful, and sometimes humorous, this story of Jorge Salcedo's role in taking down the Cali Cartel was more entertaining than I thought it would be. Jorge's story became scarier the more he resolved to bring them down, but the author did a really good job of making the four Don's personable and sympathetic. I was sad to see what happened to Guillermo Pallomari's wife, but part of me was appalled that she would be so flippant about her own safety. This really is an ...more
Jan 26, 2014 Lee rated it really liked it
This book tells the story of the downfall of the Cali Cartel from the perspective of an insider, Jorge Salcedo Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela’s chief of security who helped the DEA capture him. It starts with the Cali Cartels war against Pablo Escobar and the Medllin Cartel.. It move on to the Cali Cartels years as the major cocaine exporter into the US. It details the huge levels of corruption in Colombian at the hands of the drug lord and Jorge decision to turn on his boss and turn him in. Good rea ...more
Apr 10, 2011 Caitlin rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned, 2011
This should have been a fast-paced popular history book on the Cali Cartel side of the Colombian drug wars and I suppose it must have been, although it wasn't fast-paced enough to keep my attention. It's decent narrative, but it sort of plods along and definitely suffers from being nowhere near as good as News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It's probably not fair to compare the two, but I've decided that for me, News of a Kidnapping is the definitive word on the predations and destru ...more
Cindy Lofgren
Aug 26, 2011 Cindy Lofgren rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio-auto
Riveting from middle to end. I understand the beginning details laid the foundation of what was to happen and Jorge Salcedo's role in the Cali Cartel. It got a bit tedious but overall not hard to read straight through in a couple of days. What a brave man to risk his and his family's lives to help capture Columbia's drug lords. He is now in the witness protection program, along with a few others told about in the book. I like the wrap-up at the end of the book, as well, that tells you what event ...more
Darcia Helle
This is a fascinating look at life in a country ruled by corruption and how easily a cartel can suck people in and own them. Jorge Salcedo was one of those unfortunate people who became Columbian cartel property, then spent most of the 1990s trying to get out. This story is his perspective, taken from nearly a decade of interviews by investigative reporter William Rempel.

I was immediately swept up in Jorge's life. This book puts us all in 1990s Columbia. We're shown the truth of how few options
Michel Brooks
Apr 24, 2011 Michel Brooks rated it it was amazing
Has to be one of the best books I have read. This book had great detail and hooks in it that to be honest I thought I had better be careful of my surroundings dealing with the Cali Cartel! Although there is much more to the situation that none of will really know, Rempal gave a real dipiction of how rough, tough and corrupt the Columbia drug cartel and Columbian Government was or is??? Great read! is not out to the market until 5-31-11.
Sep 27, 2012 Pat rated it it was amazing
Very chilling book, we just do not realize how horrible these Colombian Drug lords really are. They kill their own family if they think they will talk to anyone, crime, political corruption, police corruption, even the local phone company has men working for them.
A very raw and to the point about the man that had had enough of this criminal way of life, risking everything family included to get this cartel taken down.
Karen Katz
Feb 08, 2017 Karen Katz rated it it was amazing
Thought it was so interesting.
Wilde Sky
Aug 21, 2014 Wilde Sky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A man gets involved in providing protection for a number of business men and is quickly dragged into the deadly world of a Colombian drug cartel.

I found this book totally riveting, it read like a crazy gangster story but is apparently all true. The details of the brutal / corrupting influence of the drugs cartels and their ruthless nature made me wince in places.

Anyone who is interested in the details of the ‘bosses’ of the drugs world will probably find this book interesting.
Dec 19, 2012 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very interesting book. It shows how easy it is to get in over one's head dealing with a criminal organization. The details about the Cali drug cartel and how it corrupted Colombian government, military, business - pretty much all aspects of life in that country - are disturbing and illuminating.
Jan Charvát
Oct 30, 2011 Jan Charvát rated it liked it
story of retired colombian army captain, latter chief security advisor to Cali cartel and in the end DEA snitch who brought his once powerfull employer to his knees. great story screaming for movie, although too much apologetic toward its main character. i also missed critic view on US drug policy which has brought countries as mexico on the verge of civil war...
Feb 06, 2014 Tori rated it it was amazing
Naively drawn into the upper echelons of the Cali drug cartel, the subject of this book maintains his morals and eventually brings the cartel down. Throughout the book, you know Jorge Salcedo must have been successful in extracting himself from the cartel, but finding out how is the stuff of an amazing story.
Jennifer Whitby
May 12, 2011 Jennifer Whitby rated it it was amazing
I don't normally read nonfiction books, but this one sucked me in right from the first page! And the fact that it is a true story just made it that much more difficult to put down. We are so far detached here in the US from a lot of what goes on in other countries; it's hard to believe that this stuff really happens. VERY interesting book!!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Wrong Carlos: Anatomy of a Wrongful Execution
  • To Die in Mexico: Dispatches from Inside the Drug War
  • The Infiltrator: My Secret Life Inside the Dirty Banks Behind Pablo Escobar's Medellín Cartel
  • El Narco: Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency
  • Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico's Drug Wars
  • Deal With The Devil: The FBI's Secret Thirty-Year Relationship With A Mafia Killer
  • Getting Screwed: Sex Workers and the Law
  • Mob Star: The Story of John Gotti
  • 67 Shots: Kent State and the End of American Innocence
  • The Last Godfathers: Inside the Mafia's Most Infamous Family
  • Witness to the Revolution: Radicals, Resisters, Vets, Hippies, and the Year America Lost Its Mind and Found Its Soul
  • The Last Narco: Inside the Hunt for El Chapo, the World's Most Wanted Drug Lord
  • Tell It to the World: International Justice and the Secret Campaign to Hide Mass Murder in Kosovo
  • Little Man: Meyer Lansky and the Gangster Life
  • Lockdown on Rikers: Shocking Stories of Abuse and Injustice at New York's Notorious Jail
  • Listening to Killers: Lessons Learned from My Twenty Years as a Psychological Expert Witness in Murder Cases
  • Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History
  • Kings of Cocaine
Bill Rempel’s long and eventful career at the Los Angeles Times, both as a writer and an editor, produced an impressive collection of high-profile projects and change-makers. His reporting triggered government investigations, exposed White House and Pentagon scandals, and prompted reforms of state courts and consumer protection laws.

Groundbreaking reports on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were publi
More about William C. Rempel...

Share This Book