KILLING PABLO: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw
The author of the bestseller Black Hawk Down, which depicted the U.S. military's involvement in Somalia, Bowden hits another home run with his chronicle of the manhunt for Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. He traces the prevalence of violence in Colombian history as background, then launches into the tale of the dramatic rise and fall of "Don Pablo," as he was known. Packed with detail, the book shows how Escobar, a pudgy, uneducated man who smoked marijuana daily, ruthlessly built the infamous Medellin cartel, a drug machine that eventually controlled much of Colombian life. As Bowden shows, the impotence of the Colombian government left a void readily filled by Escobar's mafia. While not ignoring the larger picture—e.g., the terrible drug-related murders that wracked the South American country in the late 1980s and early 1990s—Bowden never loses sight of the human story behind the search for Escobar, who was finally assassinated in 1993, and the terrible toll the hunt took on many of its main players.. There's a smoking gun here: Bowden charges that U.S. special forces were likely involved in helping some of Colombia's other drug lords assassinate perhaps more than a hundred people linked to Escobar. There's no doubt, according to Bowden, that the U.S. government was involved in the search for Escobar after a 1989 airplane bombing that killed 100 and made him, in Bowden's words, "Public Enemy Number One in the world." This revelation highlights one of Bowden's many journalistic accomplishments here: he shows how the search for Escobar became an end in itself. (May 8)
Forecast: Bowden will go on a monster tour (about two dozen cities) to promote this BOMC selection, which also has its own Web site (www.killingpablo.com). Expect healthy sales.