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Narcoland
Cover of Narcoland
Narcoland
The Mexican Drug Lords And Their Godfathers
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The product of five years' investigative reporting, the subject of intense national controversy, and the source of death threats that forced the National Human Rights Commission to assign two full-time bodyguards to its author, Anabel Hernández, Narcoland has been a publishing and political sensation in Mexico.
The definitive history of the drug cartels, Narcoland takes readers to the front lines of the "war on drugs," which has so far cost more than 60,000 lives in just six years. Hernández explains in riveting detail how Mexico became a base for the mega-cartels of Latin America and one of the most violent places on the planet. At every turn, Hernández names names – not just the narcos, but also the politicians, functionaries, judges and entrepreneurs who have collaborated with them. In doing so, she reveals the mind-boggling depth of corruption in Mexico's government and business elite.
Hernández became a journalist after her father was kidnapped and killed and the police refused to investigate without a bribe. She gained national prominence in 2001 with her exposure of excess and misconduct at the presidential palace, and previous books have focused on criminality at the summit of power, under presidents Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón.
In awarding Hernández the 2012 Golden Pen of Freedom, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers noted, "Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, with violence and impunity remaining major challenges in terms of press freedom. In making this award, we recognize the strong stance Ms. Hernández has taken, at great personal risk, against drug cartels."
The product of five years' investigative reporting, the subject of intense national controversy, and the source of death threats that forced the National Human Rights Commission to assign two full-time bodyguards to its author, Anabel Hernández, Narcoland has been a publishing and political sensation in Mexico.
The definitive history of the drug cartels, Narcoland takes readers to the front lines of the "war on drugs," which has so far cost more than 60,000 lives in just six years. Hernández explains in riveting detail how Mexico became a base for the mega-cartels of Latin America and one of the most violent places on the planet. At every turn, Hernández names names – not just the narcos, but also the politicians, functionaries, judges and entrepreneurs who have collaborated with them. In doing so, she reveals the mind-boggling depth of corruption in Mexico's government and business elite.
Hernández became a journalist after her father was kidnapped and killed and the police refused to investigate without a bribe. She gained national prominence in 2001 with her exposure of excess and misconduct at the presidential palace, and previous books have focused on criminality at the summit of power, under presidents Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón.
In awarding Hernández the 2012 Golden Pen of Freedom, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers noted, "Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, with violence and impunity remaining major challenges in terms of press freedom. In making this award, we recognize the strong stance Ms. Hernández has taken, at great personal risk, against drug cartels."
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About the Author-
  • Anabel Hernández is one of Mexico's leading investigative journalists, writing about slave labor, sexual exploitation, political corruption, organized crime and drug cartels. In 2012, she was presented with the Golden Pen of Freedom in Ukraine by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, and in 2014 she received the Hans Verploeg Memorial Fund Award in Amsterdam for journalistic heroism.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 17, 2013
    First published in Mexico as Los señores del narco in 2010, this dry translation brings Mexican investigative journalist Hernández’s exposé about drug trafficking in Mexico to an English-speaking audience. Five years in the making, it’s an in-depth, unforgiving look at the deep-rooted corruption that has allowed the cartels to flourish; they now influence and control vast swaths of the country. Numerous anecdotes and interviews flesh out a decades-long narrative, touching on everything from CIA and DEA involvement, to how the drug lords run their empires from prison, to the way these powerful men live and die. It’s a scathing, sobering report, as Hernández lays the blame not just on the drug cartels, but on “all those who exercise everyday power from behind a false halo of legality” to make their “law of ‘silver or lead’ ” a reality. While appendices containing glossaries of acronyms and short bios do much to reduce reader confusion, there’s still an immense and exhausting amount of information to absorb. Those willing to slog through the dense bits will find a thought-provoking portrait of the crime and corruption that dominates our southerly neighbor.

  • Kirkus

    July 15, 2013
    Rigorous, disturbing narrative of how drug cartels infiltrated Mexican society's highest levels. Investigative journalist Hernandez 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). Hernandez 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. Hernandez 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." Hernandez 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.

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    August 1, 2013
    Most Americans are aware of the carnage wrought upon Mexico by the powerful drug cartels. Still, this account of the rise and continued domination by these cartels is both shocking and unsettling. Hernandez, a widely respected investigative journalist, first published this work in Mexico in 2010, and many of her charges and warnings have been confirmed by subsequent events. According to Hernandez, Mexico is already a narco-state. That is, the cartels have become thoroughly embedded into key sectors of Mexican society, including the military, the police forces, the courts, and both the local and federal legislatures. Utilizing seemingly authentic secret files and credible sources, she exposes high-level corruption with mind-numbing details, and she doesn't shrink from flinging accusations of both incompetence and complicity at former president Calderon, hailed in the U.S. for launching the war against the cartels. Critics within Mexico have accused Hernandez of painting with too broad a brush. Perhaps so, but she still presents a convincing portrait of a society poisoned by its worst elements and presenting a serious challenge for our own country.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

  • Los Angeles Times "An investigative magnum opus."
  • NPR Morning Edition "A riveting story ... an incredibly brave journalist."
  • Barnes & Noble Review "This is a book that you read twenty-five pages at a time and then take a break from, shaking your head in disbelief that everything it contains could really have occurred. That it did only makes Hernández's undertaking all the more necessary."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Rigorous, disturbing narrative of how drug cartels infiltrated Mexican society's highest levels ... Essential reading for a serious understanding of how the war on drugs is destroying the social fabric of South American nations."
  • Sunday Times "The most remarkable feature of Anabel Hernández's brave and invaluable account of Mexico's blood-drenched drug wars is that she survived long enough to write it."
  • Nation "Braving the wrath of drug traffickers and government officials alike ... Hernández has exposed the corruption at the heart of the drug war that has killed over 80,000 of her compatriots since 2006."
  • Ed Vulliamy, Observer "Anabel Hernández accuses the Mexican state of complicity with the cartels, and says the 'war on drugs' is a sham. She's had headless animals left at her door and her family have been threatened by gunmen ... Narcoland became, and remains, a bestseller: more than 100,000 copies sold in Mexico. The success is impossible to overstate, a staggering figure for a nonfiction book in a country with indices of income and literacy incomparable to the American--European book-buying market."
  • Charles Bowden author of Murder City: Ciudad Juárez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields "Anabel Hernández exposes the most murderous drug organization in Mexico, the Mexican government. Of course, this level of corruption is only possible thanks to the moral and financial support of the leaders in Washington. Here's the story the media never has the time to tell you."
  • Independent "Jaw-dropping reading."
  • Spectator "While many Mexican politicians and officials merely pretend to fight the drugs producers, Anabel Hernández has taken a genuine stand in favour of the rule of law and decency in her society. [Narcoland] is in itself an important statement. She deserves our respect and admiration for making it."
  • Financial Times "A searing indictment of a war on drugs Hernández believes was a sham from the start."
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The Mexican Drug Lords And Their Godfathers
Anabel Hernandez
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