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The Power of the Dog (Power of the Dog #1)
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Group Read Discussions > December 2018 Group Read (Spoiler Thread): The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow

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message 1: by Bill (new)

Bill | 5460 comments Spoil away, good readers..

RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 474 comments SPOILERS through part 1:

Meet our protagonist Art Keller - a DEA agent who organizes a major bust in Mexico, only to learn that he was actually a pawn in the restructuring of the Mexican drug trade.

We also meet some NY organized crime players and a young lady who gets her start into high-dollar prostitution.

By now you will have a feel for Winslow's take-no-prisoners writing style. In this novel he notably works his plot around some real-life events such as Operation Condor, and he name-checks the Phoenix Program and Operation 40 as well.

How's everyone liking it so far?

Pamela Fake Stevens | 3 comments I did like this book and there are many scenes that were surprising and violent as well as some character development but there is a lot of history in this one and the style just kind of lost me towards the second half of the book. I felt like I didn't have a connection with the characters and was losing interest in them. The violence didn't bother me as it is a book about the cartel. I guess I just wanted more story than a historical novel.

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 1198 comments I like this novel, but I think it suffers a bit in connecting readers to the characters from including a very long zigzag historical timeline about Art’s career chasing down the particular Barrera Mexican cartel for which he has an obsession. The story is broad in describing historical events mixed in with fictional elements and yet microscopic at the same time, since it shows us readers what happened within one drug-dealing fictional Mexican family cartel, based on factual events.

I am a longtime observer of the American ‘War on Drugs’. I have seen several administrations declare a victory in ‘stopping’ all drug infiltration into America with much confidence. I have witnessed the ‘stopping’ of all illegal drugs from getting to addicts here in the 1970’s, the 1980’s, the 1990’s, and the otts up to now. Drugs were ‘stopped’ from Mexico, Colombia, the Golden Triangle (Thailand, Laos, Myanmar), Afghanistan and Pakistan, and now opioids from China.

I am being satirical about how America’s War on Drugs has stopped ANY drugs, obviously.

Also, rarely mentioned anymore are the still numerous meth and other drug labs which are creating new chemicals making more powerful drugs easily obtainable right here in the Homeland - which no Wall can keep out, since these drugs are being made in neighborhoods all over America using chemicals bought or made here.

I have seen several different faddish waves of illegal drugs which have been declared as wiped out forever by American administrations. There was an epidemic of heroin in the 1950’s - 1970’s, which has mysteriously staged a comeback in 2018. We had ‘speed’, uppers, and downers, tranquilizers, psychedelics (LSD, mushrooms) and barbiturates in the 1970’s. Then after they were ‘stopped’, we had cocaine and crack in the 1980’s. Then there was Ecstasy, ketamine, GHB, Rohypnol, Meth. Now new recreational designer drugs are bath salts and synthesized marijuana.

Below is a link to an independent film on youtube. It might be behind a paywall, I don’t know, as I have a Premium subscription. It is long, too. It covers a lot of ground in recent developments in ‘The War on Drugs’, as well as clearly supporting decriminalizing marijuana. But it also supports the novel in many of its reality-based background details, i.e., the CIA giving support and cover for the drug cartels all over the world for various secret American government money-making/military objectives/weapon sales deals. I also remember reading many stories since the 1970’s which described the drug mafias, the Iran-Contra scandals, and about the private prisons using inmates for slave labor, 60% of the prisoners being incarcerated for nonviolent drug crimes.

The author Don Winslow did not really have to make up much stuff. All he had to do really is change names.

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 1198 comments I haven’t read this book, but it seems to cover what I read in real time, as I lived my life and read newspapers at the time:

Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion

message 6: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Dec 30, 2018 02:06AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 1198 comments Given the results of the ‘War on Drugs’, as well as the multiple scandals of many governments backing the various drug cartels around the world, who was the real enemy?

message 7: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Dec 30, 2018 07:52PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 1198 comments Then there is fentanyl, a legal opioid.

I think the insatiable hunger of normal unaddicted or functioning Americans for drugs is a major part of the problem, but they are almost completely invisible in this novel. General American occasional buyers are also almost never mentioned in the official institutional statements about addiction or illegal usage. It is quite amazing that the only users who ever receive any attention are generally street addicts and imprisoned convicts, but the vast majority of customers are not addicts or they are functional. It is the general occasional user who, because of their numbers, are actually fueling the mafias and the cartels, and their terrible violence. And whenever it suits American policy or interests, the black-ops units have been directed to encourage these mafias and cartels in their business, even if it means helping them ship illegal drugs into the United States and helping the drug lords distribute it to Americans. Plus, despite all of the handwringing, we have no consistent methodologies or health care to help addicts.

There is SO much hypocrisy surrounding ‘The War on Drugs.’

RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 474 comments I agree about the hypocrisy surrounding the War on Drugs. But I haven't read another book that has made such a comprehensive effort to show the 10,000 foot view of the whole story, tracing it back to its roots in the Vietnam conflict and interweaving the political events of the following years. You're right that the names have been changed of course, and certainly characters have been simplified, but I haven't found any of that distracting from Winslow's achievements.

RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 474 comments I finished this one today and thought that it was amazing, although the ending was probably too pat and maybe even a little predictable. That didn't spoil it for me though and I gave it a five-star rating. How did everyone else like this one?

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 1198 comments I liked it. Many parts ring true to life, especially since I remember reading in newspapers and magazines in real time many of the events he fictionalized. He did a good job combining actual history with fictionalized history.

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 1198 comments RJ wrote: "I finished this one today and thought that it was amazing, although the ending was probably too pat and maybe even a little predictable. That didn't spoil it for me though and I gave it a five-star..."

looks like it’s just you and me, RJ.

: D

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