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The Power of the Dog

(Power of the Dog #1)

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  32,655 ratings  ·  2,524 reviews
From the bestselling author of Savages (now an Oliver Stone film).

This novel of the drug trade takes you deep inside a world riddled with corruption, betrayal, and bloody revenge. Art Montana is an obsessive DEA agent. The Barrera brothers are heirs to a drug empire. Nora Hayden is a jaded teenager who becomes a high-class hooker. Father Parada is a powerful and incorrupt
Paperback, 542 pages
Published May 9th 2006 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published April 26th 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, Win…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)
Roy McMillan I’m sure there was one somewhere but not that you’d notice.

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Average rating 4.35  · 
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Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“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
Mar 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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!
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
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
“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: aere-perennius, 2015
"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
Edward Lorn
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Book had me like, Hands up, titties down, ass in the air!
Mar 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
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
Anthony Ryan
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 11, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
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.
Jun 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
RJ - Slayer of Trolls
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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

I would give it 10 stars if I could.

"And maybe that’s the best we can do in this world, he thinks as he gets up to resume watering the flowers - tend to the garden and maintain the hope of a God. Against all evidence to the contrary. He watches the water bead silver on the petals. And mutters a snatch of an odd prayer he once heard, which he doesn’t quite understand but that nevertheless sticks in his head

Deliver my soul from the sword.
My love from the power of the dog."

A real page turner
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.
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
Aug 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 whos
Ethan Chapman
May 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely phenomenal. I’m reminded of Empire magazine’s Neil Jeffries who, in his five star review for Sling Blade, ends the review with this: “And it will make you think long and hard about the last time you saw a movie this good.”

Replace “saw a movie” with “read a book”. That’s Power of the Dog.
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Saumen by: Arupratan
This novel of the drug trade takes you deep inside a world riddled with corruption, betrayal, and bloody revenge.

Winslow's writing is not slow, but it did win over me.So he has justified his name here😃. He narrates with such wit and vivid storyline that instantly got me hooked.

Now I know from what series of books,the screenplay of Narcos is written.Just jocking but this book has such a intense Narcos vibe!

Its a cold but chilling thriller to the bone.DEA, politics, sickening torture,Godfathers,
Sep 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The so-called "war on drugs" ineffectively took place over many years, starting with the Nixon administration. In fact, in January, 1970, along with a couple of graduate school buddies, I took a car trip through much of Mexico. When we returned to the US, the customs guys at the border took well over an hour to search our car, an innocuous red VW bug.

The Power of the Dog is an historical novel that follows that so-called war. The main characters are a Drug Enforcement officer, a CIA agent, a Ma
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, consi
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Brendan Monroe
While technically fiction, "The Power of the Dog" is a pretty accurate account of the disastrous War on Drugs. Like the "War on Terror" that followed it, the War on Drugs is the result of corrupt mismanagement, inadequate policies, and an unclear objective. It was lost from the word go, in other words.

I picked up "The Power of the Dog" because I've heard from all corners that Don Winslow's recently completed Cartel Trilogy is the bee's knees, which is say, astoundingly good, so I started at the
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
Renee (itsbooktalk)
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When I finished reading and couldn’t stop thinking about American Dirt recently, I knew I wanted to read more on the subject of Mexico and cartels . I grabbed the audio and ebook (I like to alternate) and promptly became obsessed with the story of DEA agent Art Keller and drug lord Adan Barrera. Although this epic saga revolves around them, their initial friendship followed by hatred, the cast of supporting characters is vast but each person felt real & everyone was flawed!
This book will NOT be
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Don Winslow is the author of twenty-one acclaimed, award-winning international bestsellers, including the New York Times bestsellers The Force and The Border, the #1 international bestseller The Cartel, The Power of the Dog, Savages, and The Winter of Frankie Machine. Savages was made into a feature film by three-time Oscar-winning writer-director Oliver Stone. The Power of the Dog, The Cartel and ...more

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)

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