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The Power of the Dog

(Power of the Dog #1)

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  21,497 ratings  ·  1,781 reviews
Drug lord Miguel Angel Barrera is head of the Mexican drug federación, responsible for millions of dollars worth of cocaine traffic into the US and the torture of those who stand in its way. His nephew, Adan Barrera, is his worthy successor.

Art Keller is a US government operative, so determined to obtain revenge for a murdered colleague that his pursuit of the cartel veers
Paperback, 542 pages
Published April 27th 2006 by Arrow (first published 2005)
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Fran Armijo The book is full of scenes of violence, some of that are really disgusting, but they're written in a very natural style and don't go deep. I mean,…moreThe book is full of scenes of violence, some of that are really disgusting, but they're written in a very natural style and don't go deep. I mean, Winslow didnt't a morbid style, don't expect something like American Psycho for example. (less)
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4.37  · 
Rating details
 ·  21,497 ratings  ·  1,781 reviews

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Mar 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
CIA, DEA, FBI, NSA, NAFTA, irish mob, italian mafia, cold warriors, sandanistas, contras, high-priced whores, corrupt priests, reagan, bush, giuliani, colombian druglords, mexican cartels, campesinos, gomeros, torture, despair, murder, etc. this is one sprawling motherfuck of a great book. this guy leaves lehane pelecanos and any of his contemporary crimers (um, except ellroy) in the dust. gotta read more of his shit... viva don winslow y donkey don powell!
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“But you, O Lord, do not be far off! O you, my help, come quickly to my aid! Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog.”
- Psalm 22:19-20.

Everything about Don Winslow’s The Power of the Dog feels familiar. As I read it, pop culture artifacts as different as Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic, and the techno-thrillers of Tom Clancy popped into my head. The dramatis personae is almost a list of archetypes: the hard-charging, straight-edged DEA
I've owned this book for years but kept putting it off until now. I got about 50 pages in and knew that I should have gotten around to this earlier and was peeved at myself for wasting time this year on more disappointing reads. This is the type of book that doesn't come around too often. A book that finds the perfect balance between it's attention to detail and research, it's sensitivity to character, and it's great structure, all wrapped up in passionate prose.

Imagine a mix of Traffic, Sicari
This is not my favorite Don Winslow novel. I’d put it at #3 after Savages and The Winter of Frankie Machine. However, considering that Winslow has written over a dozen books and for my money is one of the best and most underrated guys working in crime fiction today, getting a bronze medal is pretty damn good.

Running from the mid-1970s until the turn of the century, Winslow’s historical fiction illustrates the difference between the stated public policy of America’s drug war against the covert ba
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I have been to Mexico one time in my life. I spent most of the time sitting poolside, sipping on drinks with neon colors and umbrellas floating in the ice. I rode the choppy waves of the pacific ocean on a jet ski and an atv along the sandy beach while the sun was setting. I haven’t been to South America, but when I think of South America, the same associations come to mind. I think about dancing in the streets during Carnival in Brazil and looking down on the rest of civilization at Machu Picch ...more
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Deliver my soul from the sword; my love from the power of the dog.
Psalms 22:20”

A ubiquitous theme in Don Winslow’s brilliant writing is an atavistic examination of power as a force of nature. More than that, power as currency – it is a neutral element, existing as a tool to be used for various reasons and in multiple contexts.

There is the pre-human, foundational power of sinew, tooth and claw – the muscular, violent power of strength and speed in martial contest seen in modern use as military
Aug 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, aere-perennius
"Deliver my soul from the sword; my love from the power of the dog."
- Psalms 22:20


"Art can't decide whether the War on Drugs is an obscene absurdity or an absurd obscenity. In either case, it's a tragic, bloody farce."
- Don Winslow, The Power of the Dog

Like most book series, I began the Power of the Dog series backwards. I read The Cartel first and this one second. Ass Backwards. But It didn't feel like I was reading it in reverse as much as just digging deeper.

Don Winslow's look at the Mexica
Mar 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Power of the Dog can sit next to other books that portray the American Dream as dark bruise, such as Libra, American Tabloid, and Dog Soldiers, but it may feel uncomfortable as it lacks their power of prose, depth of character (none of the characters are cartoons though), and stylistic heights: but it does have their ambition and authenticity in its vision of history as double-crosses, compromises, and bloody spectacle. But this unfair as this is really a thriller at heart (especially its finale ...more
Feb 14, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
A dark novel by Californian Don Winslow about the never-ending "war on drugs" and the various efforts of the U.S. government and its agencies to support or destabilize political regimes in Latin America (a/k/a geopolitical meddling), from the mid-70s thru the late 1990s Most of the novel centers on a Mexican crime family, an honorable DEA agent who slowly loses his soul, and a few Mafioso from NY. Well-researched but also extremely violent with repeated, cataclysmic collateral damage. However, t ...more
Edward Lorn
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Book had me like, Hands up, titties down, ass in the air!
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brandon by: Kemper
Shelves: 2015, fiction
Beginning in the late seventies and stretching over a near thirty year period, Don Winslow’s The Power of the Dog follows organized crime and the devastation left in its wake.

In The Power of the Dog, Winslow heavily features the Mexican drug war, but he also tackles the mob in New York City, prostitution in southern California and the communist scare in South America. All of these locations and events share various characters that weave in and out of conflicts like a high speed motorcycle chase
Anthony Ryan
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The tragic pointlessness of the War on Drugs provides the backdrop to Don Winslow’s crime epic. Over the span of two decades DEA agent Art Keller pursues an obsessive Ahab-like vendetta against Mexican cartel kingpin Adan Berrera, resulting in a grandly addictive tale full of violence, betrayal and moral ambiguity. The supposed good guys do terrible things in the name of justice and the bad guys are both vile and disturbingly human. Written in fast-paced present tense The Power of the Dog has so ...more
Patrick O'Neil
Mar 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Damn, Don Winslow's The Power of the Dog is one hell of an ambitious novel. And it came out in 2005 – why haven't I heard about it until now? Obviously, my fault – I blame the usual culprits of isolation and ignorance. I mean I even read the blurb and didn't think much of the premise, but still decided to give it a go. I was dead wrong – the book rocked, I barely put it down. It's got everything an intense retelling of America's war on drugs needs. It aligns so many real and hypothesized events ...more
Jun 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I don't read much science fiction anymore. When it was great, it was all about man and the Big Idea, or First Contact. It was all about the discovery of revealing concepts and bizarre things. But after the 80s, Speculative Fiction, as 'they' preferred to call it, brought more of a social consciousness to the stories and explored political structures and how they affected whatever new world we were in.
It didn't take long for me to get sick of it and abandon the genre.

What the...? Did Bill get his
There isn't much I can add to the hundreds of reviews already written. On audio, this book is simply AMAZING!

I will be on to the second audiobook, The Cartel, after a short break.
Oct 11, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm torn on this one because on the one hand, the story is pretty solid. Winslow really unpacks the bureaucracy that makes the war on drugs so snarly. By the time he's through, it's pretty clear which agencies are involved and why and how they're all connected.

Unfortunately, he also writes lines like: "Then the elevator doors slide open and water pours out, like a scene from a bad, grotesque horror film."

And he does it A LOT.

Winslow's good at distilling information, even generating a pretty swe
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If Winslow has a magnum opus, this is certainly it. A historical novel of the history of the Mexican drug cartels, with a stupefyingly-epic scope that reaches all the way back to the Vietnam War and continues through the late 1990s, encompassing real life political events such as the Phoenix Program and Operation Condor, all twisted together with the barely fictional characters until you won't be able to tell what's real and what isn't. Squeamish readers take note: there are massive amounts of p ...more
Lance Charnes
Oct 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers who want their crime opera spiced with plenty of conspiracy theories
Like the Cold War was for spy novelists, the "War on Drugs" has been the gift that keeps on giving for crime writers the world over. It's impossible to dream up fiction more extreme than the drug-related violence, corruption, cynicism, and hypocrisy that real life keeps throwing on newsprint and TV on a regular basis. There are no heroes or villains; everybody's some amount of dirty. Want to write noir? Here's your morally-bankrupt milieu, right here.

Don Winslow's made a good living being the go
Tom Mathews
As much a textbook on the political and economics of the war on drugs as it is a thriller, Winslow's book is as entertaining as it is disturbing. Sadly, there is far too much nonfiction in the pages, nonfiction that shed a glowing light on American foreign policy.

My thanks to the folks at the The Mystery, Crime, and Thriller Group for giving me the opportunity to read and discuss this and many other fine books.
The Power of the Dog: Machismo, Madness, & Morality

Don Winslow has written the epic "Dope" novel in The Power of the Dog. It is a mean, dirty story where it is not always easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys.

This is not a mere cop and crime story. Winslow goes much deeper than that. While not strictly historical fiction, because Winslow tends to change the names to protect the guilty, and omit the names to blur which Presidential Administration particular acts may be attributed to, c
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is not a novel I would compliment for it's stylistic prose, its character development, or it's originality in terms of plot: this is a novel that were it to be true is nothing short of a devastating indictment of the War on drugs. My rating of this book is based on its subject matter and its research and how it affects me as a reader.

Normally, I throw up my eyebrows in quizzical fashion when reading reviews that complain about the lack of verisimilitude, or that the author somehow has inven
Aug 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Epic in story and substance, THE POWER OF THE DOG is the crime equivalent of a broad spanning fantasy novel. Told over a thirty year time frame, Winslow's masterful tale of cross border drug running, corrupt cops, and gangsters is much more than a bloody swipe at alphabet agency politicking, with themes comprising vengeance, betrayal, misguided justice, and the illusion of redemption rife.

Through Art Keller, Winslow delivers a rich and deeply satisfying plot driven by a tainted protagonist whose
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Power of the Dog is a big, sweeping, epic tale. It is only 560 pages long and I say only because this novel is so intoxicatingly good that it is difficult to put it aside even for a moment. It is a novel not just about the drug war against the Mexican cartels, based loosely on real events, but it is a story about all kinds of people caught up in the war from the DEA agents who lost their regular lives, but not their souls, to the young kids who grew up to be killers, both on the streets of H ...more
Many reviews already written and a comprehensive synopsis on offer already. Thoroughly enjoyed this gritty, violent novel about the quest for power in the drug wars between the U.S.A and South America. The action takes place between the 1970's and late 1990's. It quite an intense read in places. Really no winners here and often difficult to know who the "good guys" are meant to be. Saw this recommended by author Adrian McKinty on his blog and decided to check it out. Very glad I did.
Jim Gauer ruined this variety of literature for me. I am not comparing authors here. If the project is to reveal social mechanisms and functions through plot, then my preferences certainly are with one at the expense of the other. This is a strong three star novel, likely 3.4 for those crunching or counting. Don Winslow certainly predicates plot above language. I think that is a popular gambit. It doesn't work for me. I would've placed the book down were it not for the scene involving the Mexico ...more
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star-reads
Dammit. This came out in 2005?? I am super late to the party. I just heard of it last year when I picked up The Force and I thought it would be too political for me, but man was I wrong. I loved everything about this one. Mexican cartels, conspiracy, betrayal, mafia Dons, murder, corrupt cops, revenge, hired Sicario’s, deception and plenty of good time, brutal drug war, bloody fun. Damn, this was good.

Coke or Pepsi? Silver or Lead?


The synopsis says this one is “An explosive novel of the
Michael Hicks
My review of The Power of the Dog can be found at High Fever Books.

Since its release in 2005, The Power of the Dog has been praised by critics and readers all over the world, and for good reason. Don Winslow’s epic powerhouse of a story about the Mexican drug cartel and the US War on Drugs is flat-out incredible! If you’re a fan of shows like The Sopranos and The Wire and you haven’t consumed The Power of the Dog in some form, you’ve made one hell of a serious mistake with your life. This is a v
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This one started out great, but with about 150 pages to go (it's well over 500), I found my interest waning. Characters started flattening out, repetitive gun battles where it seemed the major characters had an almost hobbit-like ability to survive, and a general sense of looseness as the epic subject (the drug wars) seemed to go beyond Winslow's pulpish grasp. There are a number of awesome, blood soaked scenes. A favorite of mine was early on where an Irish enforcer tries to lean too hard on a ...more
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reads
As extended version of this originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
The Americans take a product that literally grows on trees and turn it into a valuable commodity. Without them, cocaine and marijuana would be like oranges, and instead of making billions smuggling it, I’d be making pennies doing stoop labor in some California field, picking it.

And the truly funny irony is that Keller is himself another product because I make millions selling protection against him, charging the in
I'd give this 50 stars if I could. It was fantastic. This book is going in my top 10 reads of the year. This is a fictional story based on a bunch of real life events. It starts in the 1970's with the formation of the DEA and the beginning of the US's complicated relationship with Mexico and the "War on Drugs". This covers the time period from the 70's to the beginning of the 2000's.

Art Keller is an ex-Special Forces soldier who is recruited to the newly formed DEA after Vietnam. He meets two y
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Don Winslow was born in New York City but raised in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. At various times an actor, director, movie theater manager, safari guide and private investigator, Don has done many things on his way to being a novelist.

His first novel, A Cool Breeze On The Underground, was nominated for an Edgar, and a later book, California Fire and Life, received the Shamus Award. The Death An

Other books in the series

Power of the Dog (3 books)
  • The Cartel (Power of the Dog #2)
  • The Border (Power of the Dog, #3)
“You don’t let them knock you out, you make them knock you out. You make them break their fucking hands knocking you out, you let them know that they’ve been in a fight, you give them something to remember you by every time they look in a mirror.” 28 likes
“The Americans take a product that literally grows on trees and turn it into a valuable commodity. Without
them, cocaine and marijuana would be like oranges, and instead of making billions smuggling it, I’d be making pennies doing stoop labor in some California field, picking it.”
More quotes…