Margie's Reviews > El Narco: Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency

El Narco by Ioan Grillo
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's review
Mar 28, 2012

did not like it
Read from January 01 to March 28, 2012

I was prompted to read this book after completing "Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw" by Mark Bowden, a fascinating and compelling account of the rise and fall of the infamous Colombian drug lord. Unfortunately, this book was a huge disappointment and the best thing I can say about it is, "Hallelujah, I FINALLY finished it."

The research that went into this book was no doubt thorough. The author, Ioan Grillo, is a well respected journalist with years of experience covering the drug trade and makes use of these skills to offer a greater understanding of "El Narco", from its beginnings and current hold over Mexico and its citizens.

I found it to be a very labored read. I was determined to finish it only because I kept hoping that something might spring out of its pages and capture my attention. It didn't. Filled with endless and redundant facts, it was difficult to read. The author's writing style is horrendous and I was left wondering if maybe this just wasn't a case of a journalist who does better at literary pieces that are shorter in length.

The book is laden with what I can only assume he thought would be humorous anecdotes and quips that were painful to read, sometimes racist, derogatory, distracting and devoid of any additional merit.

Some examples:

"Carlos Salinas himself left Mexico after his term for a self-imposed exile in the Republic of Ireland. Apparently, he enjoys rain and thick black beer."

On the rumors surrounding the disappearance of Amado Carrillo Fuentes:

"Amado is really kicking it in the Caribbean sipping margaritas. Or maybe he is working in a gas station in Texas alongside Elvis Presley."

On the quantity of border seizures:

"This may sound all around like masturbatory bean counting."

Really? I could go on forever. The book is riddled with these awful bits.

I give the author credit for his research and effort in trying to educate us, but I think he should stick to his day job. Mr. Grillo has put his own life on the line to report on El Narco, and that is indeed no small thing. I admire and respect him for this. I cannot remember, however, disliking a book and an author's style so much in a long time.

"Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw" by Mark Bowden is a far better and informative read. I really wanted to like this book but I didn't. I can't recommend it.


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message 1: by Jeremy (last edited Aug 02, 2012 06:43AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jeremy I all I can say after reading Margie's "review" is, pishposh! El Narco is an excellent, extremely thorough book. Yes, the author makes an aside here and there, but these asides are obviously the author's means to escape from the gore for a moment. And Margie, the only way to read Mark Bowden, his trippy "Murder City", especially, is with incense lit and a Doors album playing in the background. Again, pisposh!

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