Valeria Wicker's Reviews > Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw

Killing Pablo by Mark Bowden
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's review
Mar 15, 11

really liked it
Read in January, 2006

Before reading this book I knew, through popular media, that Pablo Escobar was a drug kingpen who lived lavishly while publicly evading the law but who eventually fell and was jailed or something. A conversation with a Colombian student of mine who was surprised that I didn't know more about this cocaine mafioso led me to Mark Bowden's narration of the events that led to Escobar's assassination.

Upon reading the first 100 pages, my opnion of Escobar evolved from a general disliking of the type of business he ran to a deep loathing of everything he did and how he justified it. Pablo Escobar didn't just excel at smuggling contraband to North America and Europe and knocking off the competition. When the government mounted a campaign to bring Escobar to trial, the crime boss started kidnapping prosecutors, bribing judges and setting off bombs in the Colombian capital. The authorities and political class became scared of him and the poor saw--and continue to see--him as a hero because of his ongoing philanthropy and ability to employ many among the desperate and destitute. It's the perfect recipe for impunity.

Bowden is not a master of literary technique, but the book reads like a good suspense novel with enough description of those involved to get emotionally invested in this true story. When Pablo finally is executed, there is a mixed feeling of relief and frustration. The Colombian and US forces celebrated a victory, but it came at a cost paid in human lives, compromised ethics and state-supported terrorism.
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