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El Sicario: The Autobiography of a Mexican Assassin
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El Sicario: The Autobiography of a Mexican Assassin

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  458 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
In this unprecedented and chilling monologue, a repentant Mexican hitman tells the unvarnished truth about the war on drugs on the American. El Sicario is the hidden face of America's war on drugs. He is a contract killer who functioned as a commandante in the Chihuahuan State police, who was trained in the US by the FBI, and who for twenty years kidnapped, tortured and mu
Paperback, 345 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by Nation Books (first published April 18th 2011)
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AleJandra Guido
Oct 19, 2016 AleJandra Guido rated it really liked it
Shelves: mafia, no-ficcion
"The sicario takes us to the real Latin America, not a place of magical realism, but a place of murderous realism."

Me gusto el libro, odie la historia que cuenta.
Siempre lo he dicho, si quieren leer gore o crueldad, no es necesario buscar en la ficción, léanse un libro con relatos de la realidad del narcotráfico y estos si que te enchinan la piel.

La estructura de la historia en si es muy mala, la narrativa y traducción nos quedan debiendo. Como libro solo merecería 2 estrellas. Pero hay q
Aug 16, 2011 Sheehan rated it liked it
The whole book is a monologue of one man's involvement as an assassin for a cartel operating out of Juarez; it is every bit as disturbing and realistic as you might (not even be able to) imagine.

His is a story of some redemption, telling his tale on the run with his family constantly hiding from the blowback of his history; it is compelling because it is such a dire story.

But, aside from the introduction and a few asides by el sicario, the whole hows, what and whys are largely absent from this t
Dec 31, 2011 Andrew rated it it was ok
Plus points for this book are that it provides a shocking and horrific account of the conditions in the city which has the highest murder rate in the world; Juarez. This is told from the perspective of a former sicario, or hit man who was an active duty police officer who conducted kidnappings and killings on behalf of the Juarez cartel.

The downside is that the first hand account acts as a double edges sword. While it allows information to be gained from the horses mouth, it also consists of con
Jul 29, 2012 Manfred rated it liked it
Having lived in Mexico, been robbed in Mexico, and been kidnapped in Mexico - there isn't anything in this book I don't believe. This is a simple retelling of an underworld life from the viewpoint of a hired murderer. It could've used better editing but the matter-of-fact narrative is mostly effective. Like Bowden says, "There are things no one wants to know. And there are lies everyone wants to hear." This book discusses most of these things and lies as they relate to the cartels and the ...more
Paul Massignani
Oct 16, 2013 Paul Massignani rated it really liked it
This is the only book of its kind. For a cartel assassin to not only escape from his former occupation alive, then willingly share in plain language how it gutted him in every way possible, this is a rare thing. Long after getting out of the business, he decided to marry a girl he'd met in the south of Mexico, where he'd been working an honest job. To do this, he had to submit his real name to the local authorities, along with his address. The cartel hitmen were stalking him around town within ...more
Jun 12, 2011 Richard rated it it was ok
This memoir of sorts forms the basis of a movie by Italian film maker Gianfranco Rosi "El Sicario: Room 164". Though he is never identified for obvious reasons, this purports to be the story of this individuals role as a killer and long association with a Mexican drug cartel before he escaped and found religion. Long, tedious, salcious it's everything you might expect if you're familiar with the work of "journalist" Charles Bowden who is hell bent on exposing the ruinous goings on of the mexican ...more
Donna Kubiak
Dec 28, 2011 Donna Kubiak rated it really liked it
chilling.....really scarey to have psycopaths among us
Nov 27, 2011 Megan rated it really liked it
Terrible and fascinating.
Steev Hise
Jul 11, 2012 Steev Hise rated it it was amazing
Shelves: border, crime
This book falls into the category recently invented by the Wonkette blog: "Things You Never Knew About Mexico But Now That I Know It Can I Unknow It?" or something like that.

"El Sicario" is the story of a Mexican guy who was involved with the narcotrafficking cartels in Juarez for years, and then got out, just barely, and because he's still wanted by his old bosses he agreed to tell his story for a filmmaker and the editors of this book only if it was done without his real name, with a hood ove
Effie Perine
Apr 19, 2015 Effie Perine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended
I read this book not sure what to expect. I mean, yeah, drug cartels, Mexicans, assassins, and a whole lot of drama, but I was pleasantly surprised. I was surprised to find the story of an ordinary man who watched himself deform into something inhuman altogether. He had taken a certain path that no man should take. He admits his numerous mistakes. He shares what it was all like from beginning to end as one big reflection of his life--the joys, the pains, the perfections, and the imperfections. ...more
Oct 06, 2015 Scycer rated it really liked it
It is strange that I was reading this book, side by side to Shooter written by Gunnery Sgt Jack Coughlin. It is like visiting to two strange worlds. One highly steeped in honor and another highly steeped in gaining and maintaining respect.

Shocking to hear what the state of Mexico is due to the Narco- trades and one can understand the level of corruption. India is very similar in that nature, corruption is bred from the lowest tier to the highest. Mostly not because of Narcotics gangs however. I
Aram Leary
Jul 21, 2011 Aram Leary rated it liked it
A wonderful story of one man living a life most of us can't even imagine, and risking it all to leave it behind. El Sicario tells the story of a man trained by the Mexican police, and the FBI, all the while working for the drug cartels. This book is told in his own words, as told to reporters as he is in hiding in the US. The way this reads has good points and bad points. The casual way he describes torturing people, and bringing them back from the brink of death, only to torture them more is ...more
Nov 05, 2014 Erin rated it really liked it
I read this a couple of years ago and have been thinking about it a lot recently.. An incredible account of a man who used to be a part of the infamous Mexican drug cartel scene. The sicario tells his own story about how he was swept into the business of torture, blackmail, extortion, and murder.. In one particularly gruesome account, he speaks of kidnapping the wife of a man who owed money to the cartel. Everyday the man didn't pay up, the sicario describes cutting off one of the wife's fingers ...more
Ken Rasmussen
While it was a semi-interesting read at times on account of the inside description of how the Narcos operate e.g. in cell-like structures and the sheer organization behind it all, it really is just another story about a sociopath, an aberration in human evolution.
I recently read Charlie Bowden's "Murder City" in which this guy also appears and if you compare the two books there are quite a number of discrepancies in what he says and his angle on things and over all it is obvious that he only te
Samuel Mustri
Feb 16, 2012 Samuel Mustri rated it liked it
A fast read, "El Sicario" is a raw trip into the heart of darkness. In his preface Charles Bowden wonders if the Sicario is not only a figure out of modern Mexico, but from our future as a whole. The Sicario provides fascinating details on how drugs are transported, officials bought off and political alliances made. Mexicans seem to keep falling into the lure of material possessions with un-match appetite. The collapse of the Mexican society is in direct coloration with their belief system. If ...more
Dec 29, 2011 Dale rated it really liked it
Allegedly a direct transcription of a narco enforcer's reminiscences and regrets, chilling in its detail, harrowing in its naked assessment of the socio-political troubles in Mexico stemming from the drug wars. The sicario claims, for instance, that a quarter of all cadets in Mexican police academies are on narco payrolls before they're even out of training. Sometimes just plain horrifying and repugnant, EL SICARIO is also brutally honest in the best way and necessary reading to get a peak ...more
Angel Sanabria
May 09, 2016 Angel Sanabria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
Estremecedor relato de un hombre que pasó por el valle de la muerte, sirviendo al crimen organizado, y quien al final encontró la luz. Su testimonio no es sólo un relato personal, sino el análisis de una red de corrupción social que alcanza a las mismas esferas del gobierno, en donde delincuentes y autoridades se han coludido para secuestrar a un país, México, portador de grandes riquezas humanas y naturales, cuyo pueblo se niega a vivir aprisionado y confía en que son la justicia, la paz y la ...more
Jordan Parkhurst
Feb 22, 2013 Jordan Parkhurst rated it it was ok
The content is incredibly interesting, but the "authors'" choice to let the Sicario determine the flow and organization was disastrous (as were their spotted and less than academic citations). He often seemed to exaggerate for effect, repeated himself and used cliched phrases. They should've saved the power of his story by couching it in a well organized story, complete with second hand source documents and people.
Alene Sen
Feb 22, 2016 Alene Sen rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, mexico
The book recounts the life of an ex-assassin for the Mexican cartel. It chronicles his training in the Mexican police academy, the executions he was assigned to, and his departure from the cartel, to become a born again Christian. (He currently has a hefty price on his head) There are lots of interesting and shocking insights into how the cartels recruit their assassins and how they purchase and build corruption within the government, the military, and the local police.
Aug 03, 2011 John rated it really liked it
Chilling, I believe, is the word. This book edited by Bowden and Molly Molloy is ostensibl the true confession of a drug war assassin. While I feel like the book could have been further edited, it is true that the sicario basically carries the story onto his own tangents. Certainly there is no other document like it.
Jan 30, 2012 David rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was amazing! I learned about it from watching a dateline episode of a woman fighting the cartels because they kidnapped her daughter. This really does show the corruption of Mexico, and all the things that happen there. It will make you happy that you live where you live faraway from this mess. Very well written Anna must read.
Dec 26, 2012 Emily rated it it was amazing
Shelves: auto-biography
This book hit close to home. I'm from El Paso and its sad to hear about the narrator's childhood memories. By the same token, it's scary and chilling. Everyone knows about the corruption that is Juarez and Mexico in general but when you read the words of someone who's lived it, it cements the stories you hear.
Dec 13, 2012 Melissa rated it liked it
I picked this up not knowing what to expect but I was surprised by what I got. El Sicario tells his story without apologizing and without glorifying what he did. This Autobiography of a Mexican Assassin is surprisingly bloodless, and reads like a noir mystery - the facts are laid out and you fill in the 'dark and stormy night' on your own.

March 2012
Casey Rayne
Aug 23, 2012 Casey Rayne rated it liked it
thought it would be more brutal. but the whole story started off dreadfully slow , had a bit of the action, then ended with church. its an autobiography so i can expect a trilling story line however, it would have been a bit more intriguing if it had more of the dirt behind the "hitman world".
Jul 13, 2011 Ruth rated it really liked it
A friend of mine collaborated on this book, which is a pretty amazing first hand account of the Mexican drug cartels and the violence currently going on in Mexico. Very intense, but worth the read for the light it sheds on this situation.
Yun Huang Yong
Mar 12, 2016 Yun Huang Yong rated it did not like it
Whilst offering some interesting insights into the drug situation in Mexico the book becomes increasingly irritating to read as it is extremely repetitive. There's about 50 pages of material in there expanded to fill 200. Not worth the time.
Apr 19, 2015 Corey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inside look from an assassin about the countless murders
that have gone on in Juarez and how corruption exists
in all areas of society in Mexico: government, military,
police, business, drug cartels. Written and compiled
by Molly Molloy, a librarian from NMSU -Las Cruces.
Oct 03, 2011 Richard rated it liked it
To someone living on the border this book does not contain any revelations about the violence and brutality in Mexico, but it certainly presents the facts from a different perspective. Of course, this assumes el Sicario is not a fictional character. It is worth reading.
Jan 27, 2013 Victoria rated it really liked it
This is a transcript of the documentary, but reads well. If you want to understand how the drug biz works in Mexico this is a good place to begin. The "sicario" is recruited as a teen to work for the cartels-a harrowing tale of Mexico's "new slavery".
Sep 05, 2012 Vi rated it liked it
I thought this book would be closer to Mexican Mafia. It isn't, but it gives you the story of the level of corruption in Mexico (and how crime functions there, very similar to Japan) and how there is no simple solution to the drug war.
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