Readers won’t look at the war on drugs the same way after reading Hurowitz’s damning account.



A fast-paced study of the infamous, now imprisoned Mexican drug lord and the social structures that supported and enabled his rise.

Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán (1957), who headed the Sinaloa drug cartel for decades, may have flattered himself with comparisons to Jesús Malverde, a Mexican counterpart of Robin Hood. Freelance journalist Hurowitz writes that Guzmán, like other drug lords, “certainly distributed portions of their illegal largesse after hitting it big,” funding infrastructural improvements that weren’t entirely selfless—e.g., a new road leading to poppy and marijuana fields in the Sierra Madre. The author makes an important point early on: Guzmán was able to accumulate such wealth and power thanks to the market north of the border, “the world’s largest consumer of illicit drugs.” Indeed, it is American involvement that conditions the entirety of the drug trade, which has relied on a kind of symbiosis with the Mexican government: The drug kingpins support the politicians, the politicians support the drug trade if only by ignoring it. With the collapse of one-party rule in Mexico and the emergence of several competing cartels, the drug trade became a government unto itself, and few were more vigorous in amassing power than Guzmán. Hurowitz’s portrait of Guzmán is a touch overlong and sometimes repetitious—e.g., when he writes, multiple times, of Guzmán’s “beady” or “beady little eyes.” Still, his tale of Guzmán’s rise and vicious rule is comprehensive, as is his account of how Guzmán, rightly paranoid thanks to the willingness of his lieutenants to sell him out, was finally captured and brought to the U.S. “His final act is playing out now, in a tiny cell in a supermax prison on the windswept high desert plains of Colorado,” writes Hurowitz, adding that the drug trade is essentially unaffected by his removal. “In Mexico,” he writes, “the story goes on without him.”

Readers won’t look at the war on drugs the same way after reading Hurowitz’s damning account.

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982133-75-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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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 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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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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