Kiling Pablo: The Hunt For The Richest, Most Powerful Criminal In History by Mark Bowden

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Charting the rise and fall of Colombian drugs baron Pablo Escobar, Bowden’s account is firmly in the factual bestseller mould: contemporary, colourful and addictive. Escobar’s career was an extraordinary one: he was an elected member of parliament, and built roads, houses and hospitals. He was a hero to the poor. He was also “the richest and most powerful criminal in history”, head of a brutal crime organisation holding a country to ransom. The efforts to bring Escobar to justice involved covert action by US Special Forces and intelligence services and is a story which, until now, has never been told in detail. Bowden had access to highly classified documents to compile this authoritative account, as well as secret surveillance footage, wire tap transcripts and he interviewed all of the major players in the case. The result is a colourful and absorbing account of true crime, corruption and an international manhunt, written with excitement and flair.
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The Damage Done: Twelve Years Of Hell In A Bangkok Prison by W. Fellows

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Think about the most wretched day of your life. Maybe it was when someone you loved died, or when you were badly hurt in an accident, or a day when you were so terrified you could scarcely bear it. No imagine 4,000 of those days in one big chunk.
In 1978, Warren Fellows was convicted in Thailand of heroin trafficking and was sentenced to life imprisonment. The Damage Done is his story of an unthinkable nightmare in a place where sewer rats and cockroaches are the only nutritious food, and where the worst punishment is the khun deo – solitary confinement, Thai style.
Fellows was certainly guilty of his crime, but he endured and survived human-rights abuses beyond imagination. This is not his plea for forgiveness, nor his denial of guilt; it is the story of an ordeal that no one would wish on their worst enemy. It is an essential read: heartbreaking, fascinating and impossible to put down.
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In The Shadow Of Papillon: Seven Years Of Hell In Venezuela’s Prison System by Frank Zane and John Tilsley

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Following the collapse of his business and the loss of his home, Frank Kane made a catastrophic decision. In desperation, he agreed to smuggle cocaine out of Venezuela. Almost inevitably, he and his girlfriend, Sam, were caught.
The price they paid was a ten-year sentence in the hell of the overcrowded Venezuelan prison system, notorious for corruption and abuse, and rife with weapons and gangs. At one point, Frank was held in the remote El Dorado prison, better known for being the one-time home of Henri Charrière, or Papillon. He witnessed countless murders as gang leaders fought for power, and he had to become as ruthless as his fellow inmates in order to survive. In an attempt to dull the reality of the horrendous conditions, he succumbed to drugs.
After enduring years of systematic beatings by the guards and attempts on his life by inmates, Frank suffered more than one breakdown. He lost over four stone and was riddled with disease, but somehow he found the strength within himself to survive and was eventually released in 2004 after serving over seven years of his sentence. During the long walk back from hell, Frank decided to tell his story.
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The Gringo Trail by Mark Mann

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Asia has the hippie trail. South America has the gringo trail. Mark Mann and his girlfriend Melissa set off to explore the ancient monuments, mountains and rainforests of South America. But for their friend Mark, South America meant only one thing: drugs. Sad, funny and shocking, The Gringo Trail is an On the Road for the Lonely Planet generation – a darkly comic road-trip and a revealing journey through South America’s turbulent history. Drama and discovery. Culture and cocaine. Fact is stranger than fiction…
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Marching Powder by Rusty Young

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Thomas McFadden was a minor drugs dealer in Bolivia who was summarily arrested and thrown into jail, the notorious San Pedro Prison. Within the grim walls of the corrupt institution, he discovered a world which mirrored many of the wrongs of South American society at large: bribery, drugs, intimidation and violence at every level. McFadden needed to raise $5,000 to get released and how he managed this – for instance, by giving backpackers tours of the prison – is much of the story. Inevitably, Marching Powder recalls the nightmarish world of Midnight Express, but is sufficiently different in its own right to remain compelling. Young’s account was written partly during a three-month stay with the unfortunate McFadden and reeks of authenticity. Not for the faint-hearted, perhaps, but those who enjoyed Killing Pablo may see this often surreal history as some sort of follow.
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