GRINGO

MY LIFE ON THE EDGE AS AN INTERNATIONAL FUGITIVE

A drug trafficker recounts his life on the lam in this debut memoir.

Growing up in a small South Dakota town where boys “aspired to be Daniel Boone, not Kanye West,” Davis’ life dramatically changed when he left home in 1974 for the bright lights of Las Vegas. As a college student, he started manufacturing “White Crosses” (speed pills) and soon recruited the local Bandidos motorcycle gang to distribute his supply. His decision to enter this volatile, dangerous world ushered in a period of extreme wealth, as he earned close to $200,000 per week selling the drug. But then he was caught by authorities and incarcerated—ironically enough, for selling marijuana, a far less expensive and less lethal substance than speed. He avoided this conviction, however, by jumping bail and slipping over the border into Mexico undetected. During his many years on the run across Central and South America, he found some unusual ways to hide out: with the infamous Colombian Medellín drug cartel, in Panama’s mostly uncharted Darien Gap, and even, briefly, in Fidel Castro’s Cuba. Desperate to stay one step ahead of the American authorities (federales), Davis falsified his identity and moved often from city to city to avoid arousing suspicion: “I was a fugitive with a stolen fake passport….I was trying to con a con,” he writes. This memoir is written with an intense, electrifying energy; for example, when Davis is finally caught by authorities in Venezuela, he says, “I had sworn early on that the only way I would return to America was with pennies on my eyes or in handcuffs.” Co-author Conti (Whatever Happened to Martin Barnett?, 2016, etc.) helps to hold things together in a strong retelling that addresses the many complexities of Davis’ life story. The narrative is propelled by sharp, energizing prose that firmly holds readers’ attention as they’re plunged into the dramatic, unstable Central American drug circuit. For those who are uninitiated into this elusive milieu, the book offers robust context that combines with the larger narrative and truly enriches the story of a life lived on the edge. A fast-paced, thrilling work about navigating the dangerous drug trade.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-938812-84-2

Page Count: -

Publisher: Full Court Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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

NIGHT

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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