Essential reading for a serious understanding of how the war on drugs is destroying the social fabric of South American...




Rigorous, disturbing narrative of how drug cartels infiltrated Mexican society’s highest levels.

Investigative journalist Hernández has clearly put herself at risk to assemble this specific social narrative that begins in the 1980s, when Mexican drug trafficking was regionalized and controlled and thus tolerated by the government (and covertly by the United States, as evidenced by traffickers’ involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal). Hernández sees the 2001 prison escape of the aggressive trafficker “El Chapo” Guzman as a crucial watershed for the sharp increase in violence. Guzman then formed a “Federation” among various midlevel cartels, forcing open warfare between that group and the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels and making overt the federal government’s protection of him (beginning with his “escape”). This, in turn, enraged hyperviolent assassin cells in the employ of other drug barons, such as the notorious Zetas, initially composed of compromised Special Forces veterans. The result has been approximately 10,000 murders per year and the thorough discrediting of Mexico’s labyrinthine bureaucracy and political system. Hernández notes that “Felipe Calderon stepped down as president of Mexico in December 2012 [with his term] engraved in collective memory as an era of death and corruption.” The author pulls no punches in backing up such assertions; rather, she reviews evidence showing that the cartels’ real power lies in relationships with untouchable elites in fields like banking and air transport. She similarly demonstrates that key police agencies, such as the Federal Investigations Agency, have been compromised, one of many examples of how “the Mexican government treats the narco-tycoons as untouchable.” Hernández writes clearly, savoring the details and ironies of her investigation, with a tone of righteous polemical outrage, but her tale’s grim implications and intricate narrative connections may prove hard going for casual readers.

Essential reading for a serious understanding of how the war on drugs is destroying the social fabric of South American nations.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-78168-073-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Verso

Review Posted Online: July 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?


For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet