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Down by the River (Charles Bowden)

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Offline ryanrodgers

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Down by the River (Charles Bowden)
« on: February 17, 2009, 01:48:09 PM »
The majority of this book is in El Paso and Juarez, but it does spend time in Ojinaga and touches on Santa Elena in discussing the shootout that killed Pablo Acosta ("Druglord," a biography on him, is suppose to be good).  The madness of the current drug violence makes this book all the more pertinent.  Through the life of a senior DEA agent from a prominent El Paso family, Bowden gives his take on the escalating violence surrounding the drug trade.  When the DEA agent's son is killed, he finds himself suddenly blocked from finding the reason.

More broadly important are the conclusions Bowden draws on government complicity in creating the current problem.  A presidential agreement allowed cartels to exist as long as they kept their money in Mexico, thereby filling a necessary hole in the Mexican economy after the peso's collapse, a process that made many corrupt politicians rich.  In order to pass NAFTA and maintain business relationships, the US gov't in Washington, years after encouraging the first Mexican narcotic crop of opiates, refused to acknowledge that the businessmen and bureaucrats they wanted to deal with were a major cause of the so called War on Drugs.

Bowden's a powerful and dramatic writer, though the first time I heard of him was when he claimed in National Geographic that North Dakota was a wasteland of sorts, which, in this part of the country, ruffled a few feathers as one can imagine.  He does dabble with the sensational, though I'd be curious to hear whether people from the borderlands agree with his conclusions.  Aside from the current social relevance, it's otherwise a good read--following the colorful history and degradation of a prominent El Paso family, detailing colorful stories from dealers, police, citizens and the author's own adventures that eventually earn him a cartel contract on his life.

 


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