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MULE

MY DANGEROUS LIFE AS A DRUG SMUGGLER TURNED DEA INFORMANT

Adds little to our understanding of violent international drug smuggling.

Melodramatic account of a marijuana smuggler who switched sides.

El Paso–based motivational speaker Heifner asserts that his criminal involvement followed a limited arc. Over several months, he accepted a number of missions from his flashy, vulgar college friend Jake, driving carloads of cannabis across the Mexican border. When arrested, the author received a light sentence of probation and deferred adjudication and a visit from DEA agents, which inspired the none-too-thoughtful Jake to threaten Heifner and his family’s lives. This led him to volunteer as a DEA informant in order to keep his family safe. The author works to document Jake’s connection to large loads of pot, even while redeeming himself by returning to school and reconciling with his harried wife. Although Heifner endeavors to get inside his paranoid, angst-ridden mindset, the prose is too hasty—much of the narrative reads like a Maxim true-crime article expanded to book length, with artificial dialogue and a constant stream of cliché and overheated language (“I was a wrecking ball, and everyone else was a straw house”). The lack of verisimilitude is also unfortunate. Heifner does not explicitly identify many of the characters or cases (other than an epilogue that mentions the arrest of Jake’s partner), and conveniently, Jake disappeared and is presumed dead. Heifner is an unsympathetic protagonist, as he expresses contempt for the incompetent cops and criminals around him, trumpeting his own superior intelligence rather than looking for nuance or irony in his circumstances, and he portrays minor characters in terms verging on sexist or racist caricature.

Adds little to our understanding of violent international drug smuggling.

Pub Date: July 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7627-8028-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Lyons Press

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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NIGHT

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

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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