The True Story Behind the Hit Series 'Narcos' - Killing Pablo

By Mark Bowden

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
joan collins
Before reading this book I knew, through popular media, that Pablo Escobar was a drug kingpen who lived lavishly while publicly evading the law but who eventually fell and was jailed or something. A conversation with a Colombian student of mine who was surprised that I didn't know more about this cocaine mafioso led me to Mark Bowden's narration of the events that led to Escobar's assassination.

Upon reading the first 100 pages, my opnion of Escobar evolved from a general disliking of the type of business he ran to a deep loathing of everything he did and how he justified it. Pablo Escobar didn't just get rich smuggling contraband to North America and Europe and knocking off the competition. When the government mounted a campaign to bring Escobar to trial, the crime boss started kidnapping prosecutors, bribing judges and setting off bombs in the Colombian capital. The authorities and political class became scared of him and the poor saw him as a hero. It's the perfect recipe for impunity.

Bowden is not a master of literary technique, but the book reads like a good suspense novel with enough description of those involved to get emotionally invested in this true story. When Pablo finally is executed, there is a mixed feeling of relief and frustration. The Colombian and US forces celebrated a victory, but it came at a cost paid in human lives, compromised ethics and state-supported terrorism.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
joanne ferguson
In this riveting book, Mark Bowden brings his considerable journalistic and writerly talents to bear on the years-long hunt for Colombian druglord Pablo Escobar.

Bowden briefly chronicles Pablo's rise from a street thug to a drug kingpin who lives in luxury (with an odd taste for toilets) and who has his hands in Colombia politics (including a stint in that nation's legislature). For all his power -- or perhaps because of it -- Pablo makes foolish mistakes that turn him into the most wanted man not just in Colombia but in the world.

At this point, the United States (having in 1986 declared drug trafficking a threat to national security) becomes more heavily involved, sending CIA and Delta Force teams to the country to assist Colombian police forces. The US contingent assists heavily in intelligence gathering, particularly in monitoring Pablo's communications, but beyond that, the US's role remains uncertain. Did US agents play a role in killing off Pablo's thugs? Did a Delta Force sniper even kill Pablo himself? No one knows (or is willing to admit) for sure, although Bowden leaves the door open.

From remote South American villages to the halls of power in Bogota and Washington, this is a gripping account. It is Tom Clancy's Clear and Present Danger in real life, and Mark Bowden excitingly tells the tale.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
I didn't like the way this was written. It was like one of those newspaper or magazine articles that you start, only to find that it's much, much longer than you had thought but feel like you have to finish it so as not to be a quitter. Boring, very repetitive and not really cohesive. Like I said, it was like a really long newspaper article, but with less drama, emotion or excitement (if that's possible). Paragraph upon paragraph of scattered facts. I didn't think it was possible to write a boring book about Pablo Escobar.
Viktor Frankl's Principles for Discovering Meaning in Life and Work :: The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking Series) :: I Wanna Iguana by Kaufman Orloff - Karen (2004) Hardcover :: I Wanna Iguana :: El Narco: Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The first thing you need to do is click on the picture of this book to see the grisly photo of a fat, belly exposed, bloody corpse of Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar and the hystericaly happy poses struck by his killers. If this sort of thing apeals to you than go for it. The editorial by the store summarizes the details of the book pretty much, besides there are 85 other reviews to choose from! The photo captures the essence of the book which is full of gross atrocities to the Colombian people imposed by Escobar and government sponsored hit squads in a war for the hearts and minds of the people. Unthinkable acts, cruel acts of violence all perpetuated in a war fought to control the people by terror. Some of the details are so bad that they shouldn't be mentioned in a review. The implication by author Bowden that the US military super secret Delta Force, DEA, or SEALs involvement in the actual killing is the stuff of big screen followups for the likes of Oliver Stone. Considering the odds and suprising success of the US getting it's man once in the crosshairs my only hope is that maybe the same success can be applied to Usama Bin Laden. Get this book for a true life thrill ride in the hunt for the notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar. Also recommended is Gabriel Garcia's Marquez's "News of a Kidnapping" which details a Colombian high profile case during Escobars reign of terror.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
advait borate
While Bowden's latest book is not quite the page turner that his previous work, Black Hawk Down, was it is nonetheless a worthwhile read. Bowden has done a fantastic research job, and presents a well detailed and balanced look at how the U.S. Government set about to destroy the leader of what was then Columbia's largest drug cartel. Most importantly Bowden raises the question "do the ends justify the means." After reading the book it becomes clear that U.S. Embassy officials in Bogota had a pretty good idea that the men they were training in the Columbian Police's Search Bloc unit, were moonlighting as a Death Squad known as Los Pepes. In other words U.S. officials had strong indications that they were facilitating the training of a Death Squad. As long as the Death Squad was killing bad guys, however, U.S. officials seemed content to pretend to hear no evil and see no evil. Of course there was also information to indicate that the Death Squad (Los Pepes) was being paid by Escobar's rivals in the Cali Cartel to eliminate their competition. In essence Search Bloc members moonlighting as Los Pepes were being used as a tool of the Cali Cartel, all with the tacit backing of the U.S. Embassy. Although Searc Bloc and Los Pepes ultimately proved effective in destroying the Medellin Cartel it came with a price tag; the beginnning of the end of the rule of law and the rise of the Cali Cartel. Bowden effectively lays bare the essential question of the whole affair: what did the U.S. achieve by backing one group of thugs to kill another group of thugs? How has this helped with the mission of nation building in Columbia? What does this say about the lip service the U.S. pays to human rights? Do they really care, or only when it is convenient? One has to wonder if the events described in Bowden's book have not played themselves out many more time in many other parts of the world. As to the question of the ultimate effectiveness of the U.S. approach one only need look at the billion plus dollar price tag attached to Plan Columbia, some ten years after the "sucess" against Ecobar. In the end only the former DEA Country Attache, Joe Toft, seems to have realized that their efforts ultimately did more harm than good, quipping "I hope the moral of this story is not that the ends justify the means." Will this scenario repeat itself again? Sadly the answer seems to be yes. So long as callow U.S. counterdrug officials convince themselves that short run "victory" outweighs the long run importance of instilling the rule of law, the notion that countries should be ruled by powerful laws and not by powerful men, many, many, more Escobars will be killed/murdered. Equally as sad, the drugs will continue to flow, and the only casualty will be the cause of Democracy and the Rule of Law.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lauren kinney
The hunt and eventual "capture" of the world's greatest outlaw would necessarily make for some great reading, and this book did not disappoint. I have no doubt that Mark Bowden had meant for this to be an exciting and quick read, and that was exactly what I was looking for.
Keep in mind that this operation involved many different agencies from different countries, and spanned years. There were innumerable failures and frustrations, and many of those years were without any sort of mentionable progress at all. Somehow, Mr. Bowden has managed to piece together the most exciting highlights of this chase and made it into a coherent and high-adrenaline account that reads like a thrilling novel. The only people who would be disappointed with this book are those who are looking for research material and minute historical details.
I appreciated the fact that Mr. Bowden tells the story from both the Colombian and American agencies involved in the hunt, for both parties were just as crucial as the other in its eventual success. If this book had been written by one of the American Delta Force or CIA members involved in this operation, it would probably have lacked the fairness in giving credit to the Colombian efforts. Sometimes it takes an outsider to give a better overall picture.
This is going to be a quick and entertaining read. Having read this as well as "Black Hawk Down", I can't wait to see what topic Mr. Bowden decides to tackle next!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
In the context of today's conflagration of violence in the drug war in Mexico, it is worthwhile to read this book again about the American drug war in Colombia. The book details the rise of Pablo from obscure origins to run probably the largest drug cartel in the world, and then the efforts by the Colombian and later American government efforts to capture or kill him. Ultimately, Escobar's declaration of war against the entire society and government would lead to his inevitable fall, yet the process was arduous and difficult, involving the loss of many lives. To a certain extent, he became a hero to the local disenfranchised, even though it's not clear what he's ever done for them. The Mexican Cali cartel helped in the war against Escobar, and today they have replaced the Medellin Cartel to be the most powerful and most violent drug supplier in the world. This makes you wonder if the American strategy in the drug war is working. Unless the demand side for drugs (meaning users in the US) are curtailed and unless poverty and weak and ineffective governments in the worlds are fixed, it seems the drug war will last a lot longer than Killing Pablo. The book's detailed research make it a joy to read. Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
daisy hunt
Mark Bowden's Killing Pablo tells the appalling tale of Columbian druglord, Pablo Escobar, the infamies he perpetrated on the Columbian government, and his rise and fall from power.
Escobar and his soulless sicarios killed hundreds of government officials, police, soldiers and innocent civilians with assassination and bombing campaigns. Perhaps his biggest crime of all was his pride and egocentrism. Escobar had fully convinced himself and those in his employ that he was a hero of the people, using a great deal of his drug money to support Colombia's impoverished masses in an effort to subvert the government.
The United States became involved in the effort to remove Escobar and his ilk during the 1980s. Killing Pablo also tells the story of Centra Spike, the CIA, Delta Force, the DEA and other U.S. agencies that took part in the manhunt and the dangerous line they tread to maintain the depth of their involvement.
You can't help but admire the bravery of the Columbian citizens who stood up against Escobar despite the daily threats on their lives: President Gaviria, Eduardo Mendoza, Col. Hugo Martinez, and many other intractable Columbians who wouldn't sell their souls to the narco kings.
Despite their victory over Escobar, you can't help but feel that little has changed in Columbia. Just the faces are different. The export of cocaine was little affected by the removal of the narcos who took power in the 70s and made billions selling cocaine to insatiable American narcotics consumers. While I found the narcos themselves to be barbaric and reprehensible, I feel shame that so many Americans make it possible for this type of criminal to exist because of their addiction to illegal drugs.
Killing Pablo is an eye opener. That a fragile democracy like Colombia's was able to survive the ordeal that Escobar and the other narcos put it through is a testament to democracy and the resiliency of the Colombian government. In the end, they got their man, but as many of Bowden's interviewees observed, you have to wonder how much of the country's soul was sold to get the job done.
Mark Bowden is an excellent investigative reporter and writes a terrific narrative. His Black Hawk Down, just recently made into a movie, was even better but both books are amazing journalistic works, showing us a side of the world that's unpleasant, but hard to look away from, too.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
roberto fernando
This is a fascinating tale of the life and death of a modern day outlaw, Pablo Escobar, a Colombian narcotics trafficker who became more powerful than the government of the country in which he lived.
The book raises an interesting moral point. To defeat Pablo it was necessary to kill him. He was too powerful in Colombia to be suppressed by legal means. What should a government do when it is faced with a merciless gang? Is it ever moral for a government to sanction the murder of its citizens? Is the struggle against a powerful criminal gang akin to a war in which killing political opponents is "fair play?" Is an employee or family member of an evil man a fair target? The author reports the facts as he discovered them and doesn't express a clear opinion, but his story of Pablo's killing makes you ponder right and wrong.
The author constructed "Killing Pablo" by interviewing participants. The story is necessarily one-sided as so many of its characters ended up dead. The actions of the Colombian and U.S. governments in ridding the world of Pablo Escobar will be applauded by some and deplored by others. Read the book and make up your own mind. It's a thought-provoking story of evil.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sue hoyos
Mark Bowden has a knack for finding riveting real-world tales and bringing them to life. "Black Hawk Down," his depiction of the ill-fated Ranger/Delta Force assault on Mogadishu, Somalia in the early days of the Clinton Adminstration, gets better with every read. "Killing Pablo," Bowden's treatment of the Columbian-American manhunt for Pablo Escobar, rises almost to the heights of "BHD," and that is a compliment.

"Killing Pablo" describes the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar. We meet Escobar in the early days and watch with fascination as he rises from street tough to cocaine warlord, generating income of almost $2 billion per year. Not content to make tons of money, Escobar wants to become a cherished Don of the nation, and even gets elected into the national government. His rise to power (and his iron-fisted hold on it) is due to his twin gifts for terrorism and public relations. Despite the fact that Escobar was personally responsible for the murder, kidnapping, torture, and rape of hundreds if not thousands of Columbians, many Columbians saw him as a beloved Robin Hood figure. Some of the most excruciatingly frustrating passages in the book come when listening to Escobar play the put-upon do-gooder to the mass media, which he was able to play like a maestro.

Bowden follows both Columbians and Americans in this book, which is a strength. According to Bowden, there's no denying that America was heavily involved in this manhunt, but due to political realities both in the U.S. and in Columbia, that involvement was on the hush-hush. It's hard to tell who is more frustrated during the search for Escobar -- the U.S. military "advisers" who have to deal with Columbian policemen and military forces who won't suffer the indignity of crawling in the dirt for concealment as they launch a surprise raid on one of Escobar's luxurious villas, or the Columbian deputy justice minister who has his own bodyguards draw weapons on him as he tries to negotiate Escobar's surrender.

Prepare to be stunned as you read "Killing Pablo." I have never read a description of one private individual so thoroughly controlling an entire nation. Capitalizing on the corruption inherent in the Columbian government, Escobar was in complete control of every branch of government, and it was harder to find an honest man in the government than it was to find a corrupted one. (Actually, that's not right -- it was very easy to find the honest men, because Escobar had so many of them killed.)

Bowden excels in fly-on-the-wall, "you are there" reporting of events. This places Bowden at the mercy of his sources, many of whom have considerable axes to grind, both to protect their own reputations for honesty as well as to make sure they get credit for their role in the Escobar manhunt. This is particularly chilling during 1993, when the vigilante grous Los Pepes starts taking out Escobar's friends and family in ruthless fashion . . . possibly through the illicit use of American intelligence.

Of course, as we all know, the official story is that Escobar gets killed by the Columbian police. Bowden offers a tantalizing hint or two that suggests that our Delta Force may have been in on the kill, but nothing is proven.

In what proves to be an uninspiring coda to this story, Bowden tells us the truth -- that while the hunt for Escobar was ultimately successful in getting its man, at the cost of hundreds of lives and hundreds of millions of dollars, the killing of Pablo Escobar may have merely set the stage for the Cali cartel to take over all drug trafficking in Columbia. Like the legendary hydra, the drug business is simply too massive for the death of someone like Escobar to matter all that much.

Others have accused Bowden of shoddy research in some areas. I cannot quibble with his research, except in one minor area. Early on, Bowden uses the death of college basketball's Len Bias, star at the University of Maryland, of a cocaine overdose to demonstrate that American attitudes towards cocaine started getting officially more negative in the 1980's. Bowden refers to Bias as the top pick in the NBA Draft. This is not accurate -- Bias was the #2 pick in the NBA Draft, by the Boston Celtics, but the #1 pick was North Carolina's Brad Daugherty. While this is a minor mistake in a large book, it is a basic fact that Bowden and his editors should have caught . . . and this does call Bowden's research on harder-to-prove points into question.

Still, a fun, if often frustrating, read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
...Well my level of expectation was far too high... With that being said, he did put together a very good book. It covers the life of Pablo Escobar with a very detailed description of how he was tracked down and killed.
The two most memorable parts of the book for me was first just how horrible this guy was. Sure he killed a lot of his drug running buddies and other drug runners - which is expected. It was the level of other violence against the legal system and general public that I was not prepared for. The number of dead police officers, judges, lawyers, politicians, even newspaper reporters was just something else. Then he plants a bomb on a commercial airliner - this guy was just something else.
The second area of the book I really liked was the details on what the Colombian and U.S governments did to track this guy down. The FBI, DEA and CIA were all involved. There were daily flights with military planes looking for his cell phone transmissions... Overall the book was very detailed, interesting and well written. The story just moves along through the whole book at a fast pace. It is an enjoyable book and worth the time to read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
While Love in the Time of Cocaine: Sex, Drugs, and the Colombian Cartel by Alvaro Alban tells the story of the Colombian Cartel's extended members and their place in American society, Killing Pablo tells the story of Pablo Escobar himself. It's a realistic account of how he became a criminal, how he got started in the drug trade and how he came to command a business enterprise that grossed billions of dollars per year. Bowden goes on to demonstrate how the American government and the Colombian government together used great technology to track Pablo down and finally execute him on a rooftop in los Olivos in Medellin, Colombia. It's the most accurate nonfiction account of this enigmatic man.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jeanne harrison
Having just finished Mark Bowden's "Killing Pablo", I find myself somewhat a jumble of emotions. I think that my feelings most resemble those of DEA Agent Joe Toft, who wonders, when all is said and done, if killing Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar was such a good thing. After reading Bowden's gripping, wonderfully written piece, I must confess to seeing Toft's point.

Bowen follows briefly Escobar's life, his rise to power as drug lord of Medallin in the 1980s, and his eventual fall from grace and into his role as public enemy number one. Through this, Bowden's tells us about the impact, both good an ill, Pablo had on Columbia, from murdering politicians and rivals, to building ballparks for his hometown. Bowden never makes any over pronouncements of Escobar's evil. He simply tells us what Pablo did, and lets those appalling actions speak for themselves.

Bowden's examination of the internal politics of Columbia, first attempting to appease Pablo, then resolving to kill him, is also fascinating. The injection of the United States is even more so. In the perfect world, killing men like Pablo would be the common solution.

However, it's not a perfect world. Bowden makes points of just how down and dirty the forces out to kill Pablo got, including making use of former associates and rival drug lords. Further, the removal of Pablo did nothing to stem the flow of drugs into the US, and other drug lords filled the void.

"Killing Pablo" alternatively appalled, amused, and angered me. Anyone wanting insight into the drug war, cover operations, and simply good recounting of history would enjoy this immensely.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
bobby simic
Bowden tells an amazing story, no doubt about it. His story of the rise and fall of the Escobar cocaine cartel is a fascinating narrative with stories of murder and terror that seem larger than life. With Killing Pablo, Bowden takes the reader into the a world of drug lords, CIA agents, and a Columbian police force and government that seemed wrapped around Pablo's finger. All the elements are there for a great book, and Bowden, in his usual style, delivers a well written compelling story.
My one criticism is that Bowden barely gives the reader a larger perspective of his story other than "on the ground" accounts of the hunt for Escobar. Bowden does not give the reader a perspective of Pablo's place in the drug industry, who his competition was, the impact his cocaine had on the streets of America, and whether his pursuit and death had any measurable benefit to anyone but the other cocaine cartels. I always found that I wanted more information when I was reading this book. It is also clear that Bowden did not have sources who were close to the internal dealings of the Escobar cartel, which is a noticable hole in the book.
Its a good book, fun to read, highly enlightening, but also limited in scope to the actuals events on the ground in taking down Pablo. I think I was looking for something closer to the movie "Traffic" that looked at the drug trade and Escobar in a wider context.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
In Mark Bowden's latest book he recreates the hunt for Pablo Escobar, the ruthless leader of the infamous Medellin cocaine cartel. It is an amazing story of murder, theft, and a few good guys who were not blinded by greed and did not give into the numerous bribe attempts.
Bowden starts with Pablo's childhood in Rionegro, a well to do neighborhood of farmers near Medellin, and in gripping detail chronicles his rise to power, his foray into politics and his stunning fall from grace.
Bowden explains that Pablo saw himself as a champion for the poor people of Columbia. For a long time they were the only people in Columbia who did not consider Pablo an outright terrorist, but after a particularly bad series of car-bombings and murders, the poor people turned their back on Pablo and Columbia declared him public enemy number 1. This is the point in which Pablo became an outlaw, moving from hideout to hideout daily and only communicating with his closest confidantes. He bribed everyone in Columbia with millions of dollars to ensure his protection and killed those who did not agree with him. If it were not for the actions of a few honest and very brave men, Pablo may never have been brought to justice.
The true heroes in this story are the men in the Columbian government who refused to be bribed and risked their life and the lives of their families to eradicate Pablo.
Pablo's eventual downfall was his family, after a long conversation with his son, the authorities were able to triangulate his radio signal and his exact location was discovered out of dumb luck.
After reading Black Hawk Down and Killing Pablo, I look forward to any books that Bowden may write in the future. Killing Pablo is well researched, but not overly detailed. Bowden does a great job of keeping the story moving and in the days before Pablo is caught, you will not be able to put the book down. I highly recommend this book for anyone that likes a fast-paced real life drama.
As an aside, this book is especially interesting because at the height of Pablo-mania he was the most wanted man in the world. He was a terrorist who killed people in car-bombings and is known to have blown up at least one airplane. Pablo's methods and tactics are eerily similar to several used by the current most wanted man in the world, Osama bin Laden. The resources and manpower that the US committed to the hunt for Pablo probably pale in comparison to those currently being used to find Osama. Personally, I hope that Osama meets the same fate as Pablo did.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Although others have tried, fiction is never as good as the real tale. Killing Pablo is the story of the rise and violent fall of the Colombian cocaine cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar. Although others, such as Tom Clancy, have attempted to tell the tale as fiction, nothing compares to this intense sixteen month manhunt.
Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down, draws on his access with soldiers, field agents and officials as well as secret documents and telephone transcripts of Escobar's intercepted telephone conversations to detail how U. S. operatives and their Columbian allies covertly lead this 16 month manhunt for Pablo Escobar.
Although Bowden details Escobar's rise to his position as the world's most powerful criminal, he devotes most of the book to detailing the time from July 22nd when Escobar walked out of a luxuriously prison he built for himself and disappeared into the jungle.
Over the next days and months, the U. S. would launch a joint military and intelligence operation, equipped with the latest tracking technology, and with the Columbian government track down this ruthless "doper" from Medellin. This time, however, they had no intention of capturing him. They planned to kill him.
This spell binding tale is a great read about ruthless justice in the real world
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
erin evans
KILLING PABLO is the story of the rise, hunt, fall and death of Pablo Escobar, the chief of the Medellin Cocaine Cartel. Mark Bowden (BLACK HAWK DOWN) is gifted in bringing essentially unknown tales into the public eye, and here he does it again, dramatically. His ability to take the hidden and twisted threads of covert operations and weave a complete story from them is impressive.

Pablo, as Bowden refers to him throughout, was a small-time hood who rose to true if notorious greatness on a ladder stained with blood. At the peak of his influence he had a net worth of billions of dollars.

Pablo cultivated a jolly demeanor and, in truth, lacked couth, though he could be personally disarming. In dress, he preferred white velcro-strap Nike sneakers and blue jeans. He was short and plump. He was hardly the image of the "Don Pablo" he wanted to be. He was easy to underestimate, as the world discovered.

At his zenith, he had all but convinced the ruling oligarchy of Colombia that coca cultivation and processing was a growth industry, even if frowned upon by staid norteamericanos with no taste for trend.

In 1983 Pablo was elected a Congressional alternate from his state of Antioquia, ruled Medellin with an iron fist, and was a serious contender for the Presidency of his nation. Ten years later he was dead.

Pablo Escobar was a study in contradictions. He was 'the most Wanted man in the world' who spent most of his criminal life in the open. A sociopathic megalomaniac, he saw nothing bizarre in blowing up planes and buildings and killing hundreds in the course of targeting one man. He was a devoted husband and father with a penchant for seducing teenage girls.

Unlike some other crimelords who habitually restrained themselves from killing 'noncombatants,' Pablo gloried in taking the lives of his enemies' friends and relatives no matter how uninvolved they were in the drug trade. As a result, no one in Colombia was beyond his reach, and even the U.S. Ambassador had to live in a special security vault while Pablo was at large.

A man who victimized others constantly, he saw himself as a victim of the State. A man on the outside he always wished to be on the inside and bought, bribed and murdered his way into positions of authority. A compleat robber baron, he spoke the rhetoric of Che Guevara, and spent hundreds of millions to rebuild Medellin into a major metropolis and made its citizens into some of the most fortunate of Colombianos. To this day, Pablo is lauded in certain quarters of Colombia as a Robin Hood-type character, but Bowden makes clear that Pablo's hero image was carefully constructed and disseminated through his vast public relations apparatus to insure his own protection.

Pablo was a man incapable of restraint who ultimately overreached himself. Although he had most of Colombia's government in his pocket, he failed to appreciate the need for subtlety in his game of control. For Pablo, the government, the police, and ultimately the United States were just rival cartels to be bossed and intimidated. Never realizing how badly he had outmatched himself, he became the instrument of his own destruction.

His fall came when he simply walked out of the prison he himself had built and staffed after reaching a ridiculously one-sided plea bargain with the Colombian government to stop intra-Cartel violence. Once Pablo escaped, the government of Colombia was virtually forced into a "hunter-killer" mode of operations against him, based on his own untrustworthiness.

Aided by the United States, Colombia hunted Pablo, at first with a notable lack of zeal. Too many ranking Colombians were beholden to him. But as Pablo retaliated by attacking innocent civilians throughout the country, his public support waned and his Cartel associates faded away. Pablo soon found himself hunted by Colombian and American Special Ops troops, and a terrifying vigilante group "Los Pepes," made up of people who had been victimized by him, Cali Cartel competitors, and other shadowy individuals. As Bowden cynically says, we need to "surmise" who they were.

Pablo's fall changed nothing. Cali became the new cocaine epicenter and the government's ties to the drug kingpins were, if anything, even stronger. But Pablo was a clear target. Moreover, he was a man who simply couldn't stop himself from killing. It was decided at the highest levels that, like a mad dog, Pablo needed to be destroyed.

Pablo died ignominiously, shot by a government-backed Death Squad, with his overhanging belly on prominent display in the cover photograph of the book. His hunters shaved his moustache into a Hitlerian brush for fun. Their smiles are both bitter and mocking. That one photograph, hanging in many government offices, Colombian and American, is Pablo's legacy.

Bowden obviously has no love for Pablo Escobar, but he is also clearly equivocal about the methods and results of killing Pablo. The vast energy put into finding and eliminating this one man certainly never blunted the drug culture, but it did rid the world of one of the most powerful and amoral figures in modern history.

There's a lesson here for the post-9/11 world.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
james conrad
A powerful page turner account of an exhaustive and morally reprehensible, yet necessary manhunt in history. If there was ever a case to be made for "the end justifies the means", this is as close it gets. The killing of Pablo didn't accomplish much in the way of putting a dent in the seamless flow of cocaine to the U.S., but it sent a powerful message that violence and terrorism with impunity will not go unpunished.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
The story is interesting, as other reviews explain, but I couldn't help but be repeatedly annoyed at the author/narrator's inability to pronounce Spanish words correctly. One would think that after so much research and with Bowden's credentials, the phonetics of Spanish would be simple. If not, he could have hired a coach before recording, or at least consulted Google Translate.

If you speak even a little Spanish, you may actually laugh out loud on occasion. One example is Bowden's pronunciation of Escobar's signature offer when bribing officials: "plata o plomo"--literally "silver or lead" (bribes or bullets) Bowden pronounces "plata" (silver) like "plato" (plate). Somehow "plate or lead" doesn't have the same ring to it.

This may seem to be a petty complaint, but I've enjoyed many fantastic audiobook narrators who truly give the listeners their money's worth. I expect more from an author who so reveres both the written and spoken word.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ashlie l
If you have seen the movie "Blow", then you must read this enthralling look at the Medallin cartel, ruled by the ruthless, yet soft spoken, Pablo Escobar. How did the cocaine traffic into the US start? How did our NSA, FBI, CIA and asundry other agenices try to deal with it? It absolutely amazed me at not only the choke hold Pablo had on the government of Columbia but also the intricate and violent ways in which he went about doing so. If you were a politician in Pablo's way, then bring out the coffins! Other reviewers have found fault with the authenticity of the book. I found the book to be, at times, too detailed and redundant. But, what I was looking for was the general view of how the US conducts its drug wars outside the US boundaries. And, this gives you an incredible amount of info on that subject. But, man oh man, did Pablo have his act together and did he give the US and the Columbian government a run for their money. Or shall I say, his money!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
cj snead
This is an interesting book, which first covers the bloody history of Colombia throughout the 20th century. Bowden then introduces us to Pablo Escobar, a drug dealer who gained whatever he wanted through extreme violence and fear. The first half of the book details how Pablo used these tactics to become one of the richest men in the world. The second half details how this quickly unraveled into a manhunt which had no intentions of taking him prisoner.

One interesting point in this book is that no one could deal with Escobar through legal tactics. While goverment officials were talking to his lawyers, he was orchestrating car bomb attacks on innocent people just to put more pressure on negotioations. The only group which was able to take down Escobar's empire was another rogue group which operated outside the law called Los Pepes. They used Escoabr's terrorist tactics back at Escobar and this caused him crumble rapidly.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kenneth rankin
I liked it, but Bowden ain't no Colombian expert (and he doesn't claim to be one either). Hey, the guy just went to Colombia once or twice, and for brief periods each time. Most of the story he got from interviews and "dead" sources (books, newspaper stories, documents and stuff) without ever leaving the U.S., as he himself admits. Gotta say, he has impressive access to the Deltas and other U.S. Military personnel. Also, gotta say the lack of "on the scene" local color renders the book a tad thin. So, Bowden ain't trying to fool ya, but don't ya fool yourself. "Ten days that shook the world" this ain't, it never gets to be that personal. It certainly ain't "Dark Alliance", cause, unlike Webb, Bowden doesn't want you to "buy" any conspiracy theory, he just tells you a good, well-documented, yarn. This ain't even "Hell's Angels", where Gonzo had to hang with the Angel's for years (eventually getting stomped). So, amusing and correct it is, that's all.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
...and if you're like me, completely ignorant of the gang world, you'll be blown away. The violence is atrocious, at times I had to put the book down in order to process what I was reading. Bowden documents not only the brutality, but the challenges and moral dilemmas faced by those involved in hunting down Pablo Escobar. The latter is drawn out particularly when he notes that Hugo Martinez, who pursued Escobar to the end, employed many of the same terrorist tactics as his nemesis. There is no morality and justice here, just the growing desperation to put a stop to a man who had "grown to big for his britches." Bowden, in his usual style gives the reader sufficient detail of the politics and culture Pablo grew up/lived in. This ads significantly to the atmosphere of the book and small insights into the makings of a drug lord.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
claire frank
Killing Pablo is a book that should have been made into a movie. It had every aspect of a good movie needed to succeed. Pablo Escobar, who was at the time, the single most powerful drug trafficker in the world. As he became more powerful, he believed the more people needed to be taken out. Little did he know this was the beginning of his long and violent downfall. Mark Bowden again delivers a book that reads very easy. Full of information about hundreds of people involved with either Pablo's rise or Pablo's fall, Killing Pablo is one of the most informitive books I have read about beginning of the drug wars that have consumed the United States of America for now well over 10 years. With the current escalating situation in South America, Killing Pablo is a great book to gain a better understanding of why exactly there are American soldiers down there. I would recomend this book to anybody who enjoys furthering their knowledge of modern day wars, or who has enjoyed books like this, for example Black Hawk Down, in the past. I give it 4 stars because it is not as good as Black Hawk Down, and doesnt deserve to be given and equal rating. A very well done book though.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
laura cowan
Bowden is a great writer. I like his style. I read Black Hawk Down in two days, and I read this book in the same time. If someone wants an intensive read, these are both great reads. Anybody will realize the outcome of this book. It is the killing of an evil man. In this book though, you also see the debate between people about the methods used in the killing of this evil man. There are some that will only use civilized, lawful means. Others will use means that will destroy the evil using the methods used by the evil men. I think we face the same problem today with Osama. How do we destroy evil using the methods of the civilized world. Bowden relates the stories of Los Pepes, and the use of methods to take apart the infrastructure of Pablo Escobar's empire.

This is a great book. For those wanting a great read for several days, this would be a great read and a great addition to your library.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I purchased "Killing Pablo" solely on the strength of Mark Bowden's previous stellar work, "Black Hawk Down." While "Pablo" isn't quite up to the standard of "Black Hawk" (one of the best books I've read in the past five years), it is nevertheless an engaging read that is at once informative and entertaining.
"Pablo" is Pablo Escobar, the ruthless Colombian drup kingpin who, by the late 1980s, had amassed one of the world's largest -- and certainly most illicit -- fortunes. Mr. Bowden recounts the story of how the notorious international narco-gangster was finally brought to heel by a combination of Colombian law enforcement agencies, the U.S. DEA and Army Delta Force (which provided critical training and surveillance technology), and importantly, Escobar's rivals in the cocaine cartel. The vigilante terrorism visited upon the infrastructure of Escobar's empire by his cocaine cartel rivals (equally as vicious as Pablo himself) -- with the tacit sanction of the Colombian government -- was the critical factor in the eventual tracking down and killing of Pablo following an off-and-on-again three-year manhunt.
This book is included in the "Wall Street Journal's" review (Friday, May 18) of the better reads of the Summer of 2001. That judgment gets no quarrel from this reader.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Killing Pablo chronicles the life of Drug Lord Pablo Escobar and the long hunt to capture and kill him. It was written by Mark Bowden, the author of the exceptional book: Black Hawk Down . Since this book was advertised as "the manhunt for Pablo Escobar", I went into the book expecting a kind of adventure story dealing with the killing of Pablo. Instead, what I got was a well crafted story detailing the early life (as much as is known) of Pablo Escobar and his rise to power in Columbia through the drug trade, how Escobar became such an international target, the many years of failed attempts to capture and kill Escobar, his many escapes, and finally how Escobar was tracked down and killed.
Having read this book after Black Hawk Down , I expected the level of detail that Bowden presents, and if the story is less gripping than that of his other book, the story is no less interesting. We know how it ends, but we don't know how it all went down. The story of Pablo Escobar may not be very well known, but Mark Bowden wrote an excellent book that deserves to be read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kamila forson
Pablo Escobar, through humble roots, managed to become the most feared and powerful man in Colombia through his notorious drug business. This book documents the efforts of the U.S. and Colombian governments to capture Pablo, and Pablo's efforts to evade and subdue those forces. A truly marvelous book that documents the greatest criminal investigation ever.
I would have normally never considered reading a book like this. I tend to find non-fiction dry and uninteresting. This was the exact opposite of what I expected. Written by the same author of Black Hawk Down (which I consider the best war movie ever), he expertly weaves a great tale, dealing with the micro and macro events in this interesting saga.
This is a true page-turner and I would highly recommend it to anyone. To further continue raving about the book, I would have to give away details, and that wouldn't do this book any justice.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Killing Pablo is a tightly written, well researched account
of Pablo Escobar's years in Columbia. I thought I knew the story of Columbia's war with Pablo Escobar and the extraditables
before starting the book, but found the whole story is more shocking than the murder of 20 judges and numerous politicians.
The story is enriched by excerpts from the numerous letters
written by Escobar, demonstrating how Escobar , like many other
gangsters, view themselves as almost heroic figures, living
in a narcissitic world, manipulating popular opinion and
public figures with bribes and threats- - demanding that
they take the silver or take the bullet. Not surprisingly,
Escobar saw himself at the end as a victim who only did what he
had to do. Arrogant to the end, he came to the end he probably
anticipated. There are enough stories here for 100 books-given the breadth of the story, I felt the book was excellent
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ciaran kerr
This book runs 275 pages. When you start, you think: no problem, I'll blitz through this in a day or two.
But, ah: this is Mark Bowden. So the story is fascinating; the subject complex; the writing precise and intricate. I found myself reading and re-reading entire sections of the book, just to make sure I really understood the implications of what Bowden was reporting. It's not that it was hard to understand or follow. Rather, it's that the events he reports are so dramatic, tense, and eye-popping, you often want to go back and read the details again.
One example: in the paperback book, there's a brilliant passage on p. 194. It took me three to four readings to catch all the intracacies of Bowden's summation of the relationship circa April 1993 between Search Bloc, Los Pepes, Centra Spike, Delta Force and the CIA. Got that?
Seminal reading. Can't be recommended highly enough.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Mark Bowden has done it again. Like in his previous novel, "Black Hawk Down," Bowden takes his readers on another detailed, behind-the-scenes account of American Military Operations in a foreign country. Bowden skillfully documents the rise and fall of the one of the 20th century's vilest criminals, Columbian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar.
The book starts with showing how Escobar rose to power, and the societal and cultural factors that allowed Escobar to become the monster he was in Columbia. It is an eye-opening look at the instability, greed, and corruption that plagues many democratic countries. Then, one learns of the first manhunt for Escobar, which resulted in his "imprisonment" in a luxury jail that he unbelievably was able to build for himself in perhaps the ultimate definetion of a country-club prison. But different factors lead to Pablo's "escape" from this prison and a second manhunt is called that ultimately leads to Pablo's demise.
This a just a thumbnail sketch of the book, but what makes this book unique is Bowden's ability to get access and information from all the key players in the Escobar saga. From the Columbian President to disgraced government ministers, Escobar associates,DEA agents, Special Ops guys and the US Ambassodor, Bowden gets the story straight from the people who were there, both behind the scenes and actively out fighting gun-battles on the street.
This book reads like the best fiction thrillers, but unfortunately it is a true story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
britton peele
Of course, after reading Black Hawk Down, you naturally have to go look for more books by Bowden. He has a way of writing that isn't totally neutral but not biased, it's intriguing and clear. There's no flowery prose in his writing but it's certainly not dry, it's exciting and real. The story of a thug who terrorized a country is amazing, how does a guy get a country to live in fear? well, simple. Be ruthless. Someone giving you a problem? Kill his sister. Still bothering you, blow up his house. Still? Kill him. Government? Kill the judges. Not giving up? random car bombs. Still after you? bribes... just wow. anyways, not telling all here, but this guy was something, and it's not surprising that he lasted for so long. I thought the book was really engrossing, eye opening and exciting. Though I did think the end was a little dragged out, it was a very good read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mary pat
After Mark Bowden wrote the highly acclaimed "Black Hawk Down" I thought I had seen the last of this journalist. However, I was wrong. In "Killing Pablo" Bowden has done it again by merging a blow-by-blow account of the manhunt for the drug kingpin Pablo Escobar with little gems of US foreign policy and the future of warfare.
While the book in itself is a good read it really becomes excellent if one takes it as a case study of what is to come in the future in the realm of armed conflict. Escobar and his drug cartel was by no measure a government but the casaulties still massed up to thousands during the manhunt for him. Much like Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network these are non-governmental organization waging war!! "Killing Pablo" serves as a reminder that Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are not the first, or last, non-state group to seriously threaten the security of nations in the 21st Century.....
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
andy edwards
The best of Bowden's books ... and that's saying a lot. Well researched, the story of one of the most notorious criminals is incredibly detailed and rolls along like an action film. Bowden is a master of creative non-fiction, and this was my introduction to him. I loved all of his books, but the story of Pablo Escobar still ranks as my favorite.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
chris cain
This is a very good read told at a brisk pace. I came away feeling that Pablo was a bit of a tragic figure, with plenty of bad as well as plenty of good in him, mixed in with a very heavy dose of ambition fueling his rise to the top of the drug world. For all of the bad things Pablo seems to have done, I found it very sad and even tragic to see him hunted down and shot to death in the end. Colonel Martinez, Pablo's nemesis, comes across as an interesting and strong person who you also care about. As some critics have noted, perhaps the book should have been written by a Colombian, who would have greater familiarity with the subject matter, but Bowden seems to have done a very good and objective job of telling the story. Author of Adjust Your Brain: A Practical Theory for Maximizing Mental Health.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
After reading Blackhawk Down, I wanted more of Mark Bowden's gritty, exciting style. My only qualm with that book was the lack of sociopolitical background. Killing Pablo delivers that in spades. This book goes beyond the excitement of the chase and delves into the cultural forces that allow men like Pablo Escobar to exist in the first place. It is not a pretty picture, and it raises many questions for those of us living comfortable lives in the United States. What is our responsibility for keeping the world 'safe' and how much of the world's ills are of our own creation. This book causes one to really ponder the moral implications of our government's actions, and at it's heart is the timeless question of when does one act and when does one hold still. By the end of the book, I agreed that Escobar had to be killed, but I was left asking that ancient and uneasy question: Do the ends justify the means?
Powerful, well-written, significant. I couldn't put this one down. By the end of reading it, my house was a wreck, and I had a stack of work that I was behind on simply because I couldn't stop reading, even though the book's cover gives away the ending. I had to know how it came to that.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
susana rato
I'd heard how life is cheap in countries outside the first world, but I can't say that I emotionally understood what that meant until I read this book. It makes you sad for humanity that there are people such as Pablo Escobar who care nothing for life or anyone outside their immediate family.

Pablo Escobar, inventor of the Colombian necktie, was perhaps the most socio-pathological human being since Stalin. Here was a person who could take first-hand joy in torturing and killing an innocent person and then step up to a microphone and decry the tragedy of that person's death. Here was a terrorist that freely killed his own people and even blew up a plane (with a 170-odd people) to target one man (who didn't happen to take that flight). Here was a man that would kill women and children if it would strike at one of his enemies -- real or imagined.

The book strikes all the right chords. The pacing is excellent and it also sets up the historical stage on which the hunt for Pablo occurs. The author brings home the frustration of trying to get things done in a corrupt and incompetent country. He also helps the reader understand the frustration of the poor in Columbia as a rich country attempts to dictate and implement its desires without having to deal with the day-to-day consequences.

There is definitely one thing this book makes clear -- the world is better off without Pablo Escobar in it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I would have to agree with Rudiger's review.
Rating this book mainly depends on viewpoint: * Buy just to have something to read? * Buy to learn and reference? * Buy to know and find out what happened.
Whereas BLACK HAWK DOWN excelled in all three, "Killing Pablo" excels in the top bullet and less with each one below. Mainly because no one really knew what happened as Rudiger pointed out...and no one involved is really telling.
Although Rudiger bought the Audio CD, I bought the book mainly for the first bullet...something to read.
First off, for me "Killing Pablo" was hard to put down. I kept reading just to see what happened. It fulfilled the first bullet perfectly. However, if I were to tell someone what happened when and the people involved where and when, it would be hard because of so many names, events, and people.
The shortcomings of this book are minor but they do stand out, so much so they make reading, understanding, and learning difficult. Like BLACK HAWK DOWN, there are SO MANY names in "Killing Pablo" that it's easy to get confused and tangled and see who's important and who isn't. All the names in BLACK HAWK DOWN wasn't so bad but I felt "Killing Pablo" was. After all, with all the killings and kidnappings, it's hard to keep track or who's who and who done what. For example: "Joe replaced Jon who was killed and who replaced John who replaced Joey who kidnapped who replaced Bob who was missing who replaced Jose." After a while, you get so confused that names are not important but they are.
Another example: Colonel Hugo Martinez lead the Search Party. But his son is also named Hugo Martinez and his rank is lieutenant. Mark uses "Hugo" many times in the book.
It gets to the point that it seems everyone involved wants their name in the book as to what they did, no matter how big or how small. But Mark doesn't follow up on the event history of everyone so is that person important or significant to the hunt or not? And the name is there but not what they really did because they're not really telling.
I felt the book could use three things: * A timeline graph of events, killings and bombings by week, month, and year * A flowchart of who replaced whom * A list of the names in the book and briefly what they did * A glossary. With so many Spanish terms, not all defined in English, it's hard to know what the term means. * More maps like in BLACK HAWK DOWN.
The telling of the events also jumps around a lot in time. Too many "flashbacks." In one paragraph a bomb blew up. The paragraph below: two hours before the explosion John called Frank. Next paragraph..while Frank was speaking to John, Jim in the US was talking to Kris. Next paragraph, one hour before the bomb blew, Jose was speaking with Hugo. All this took place before the bomb blew but the reader already read that the bomb blew and has to read the "flashbacks" to catch up on events (people involved and what they did) before the bomb blew.
"Killing Pablo" is a good subject but perhaps not worth the price of hardcover due to the difficulty reading it. Again, it all depends on the viewpoint you're buying it for.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mackenzie gentry
Bowden has followed Blackhawk Down with another spellbinding work. His story makes sense of the complex drug-related events in Colombia with text that is riveting. He provides cultural and historical context, then chronicles the rise in power of Escobar. A petty criminal, his absolute ruthlessness eliminated drug trade competitors and overwhelmed the ability of the government to cope. He either bought or killed officials who stood in his way; his motto was "silver or lead." Those brave enough to resist usually survived only weeks after refusing a bribe. His reporter's skill is apparent: Bowden is careful to present what information he knows, as compared to what he suspects. The book is valuable both as a good read, although I found it understandably less compelling than Blackhawk Down, and as an explanatory record of recent historical events.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
maritza canales patel
As many have and will, I bought this book simply because of how much I loved Bowden's "Black Hawk Down." But while this book had a fairly interesting topic, Bowden was unable to make it into the dramatic thriller that Black Hawk was.
While I was generally familiar with the hunt for Pablo Escobar, there was some information in this book that was new to me. The book is entertaining at first, as Bowden recounts Pablo Escobar's rise to power, and his subsequent reign of terror as head of the Medellin drug cartel. But after Escobar "escapes" from the lavish prison he had built for himself, and goes into hiding, Bowden's story falls off. Ultimately the chase for Escobar settles down into a simple, predictable, manhunt for a highly wanted criminal. For anyone who is completely unfamiliar with the United States' efforts to fight drug cartels in Colombia, this book will be more captivating. But for the reader who has some familiarity with the subject this book will be a bit of a letdown.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
teo evy
This was truly a great book, written by a serious and talented author. I enjoyed "Black Hawk Down" immensly, reading in less than two days during a holiday in Florida two years ago. With "Killing Pablo" Mark Bowden does it again. I finished it almost as fast and are awaiting his next novel. Being a journalist, Bowden is skilled in the arts of investigation and discription. He also excells in writing to a degree that places the reader right into the story - whether it is a dusty alley in Mogadishu or a crime infested barrio in Medellín. Bowden is also good at presenting the facts in a way that makes it interesting and fascinating. Killing Pablo is fabulous and deserves to be read by virtally anyone, as it gives insight into a lot of the problems that faces the world (drugs, terrorism, crime). There is only one negative aspect with this book, probably created by Bowdens appraisal of the american Delta Force. He, like many american authors (like Tom Clancy), is so convinced by the skill and motivation of the US Armed Forces that it influences his writings. From the outset I got the impression that it was only thanks to Delta and Special Forces involvement that Pablo could be caught, and killed. But although they were of great help, the final act was a tribute to the Columbians and therir Army and Police units. I also find it difficult to see it as an axiom, that Delta Force is the worlds finest Special Forces unit - it is actually a less experienced clone of the British SAS (being a close copy in structure and tactics) Why do I write about this? It doesn't make the book bad, or even worse. But it's one situation which I'm referring to. At page 344 Bowden claims that Escobar may have been killed by Delta snipers, since being - like his bodyguard - shot in the head. This fact is built by the undisputed claim that Delta Force, as the finest Special Forces unit in the world also has the worlds best snipers. This may be so, but I would have liked Bowden to apply his analytical mind to the problem more accurately. Their is no evidence that the unit was actually involved in the fighting, especially during this last battle which was kind of a hasty operation. If Delta somehow managed to get to the place faster than its Columbian counterparts, I find it very unlikely that they could have placed snipers in the adjacent buildings. But this is beside the point, Bowden could easily have speculated this far if he had presented one crucial fact - namely was Escobar killed by a rifleshot or a pistolshot? Apparently their was enough evidence to conclude that there was no gunpowder-stains on the body - eliminating the theory of execution. But this means that the round that killed him was fired from at least four or five feet distance. And assuming that he was hit in the leg and back he would have been laying on the ground when the last bullet ended his life (unless they all hit him simultaneously). I'm interested in whether or not the last bullit was fired up-close or at a distance (ballistics could prove that). Because if it was the former, namely a coup de grace, it is difficult to administer with a rifle - since it would take a pretty tall shooter to hold a four-foot carbine (like a M16) four feet above Escobars head to avoid gunpowder residual. This way, if he had been killed by a pistolbullit the Deltas was not involved, and if it really was a rifle bullit it was with all probability shot from the assualt team. This is only a minor annoyance, this is truly a great book which I recommend warmly, and await his next project with great expectation.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Bowden's post-mortem of the war against the Medellin cocaine cartels of the 1980s and early to mid-1990s is written (and, in this case, read) in a similar style as his gripping 1999 book BLACK HAWK DOWN. While I highly recommend the latter for its thoroughness, attention to detail, and relative even-handedness, I was not quite as happy with KILLING PABLO. It did serve as a good introduction to the world of Columbian drug lords, with Pablo Escobar standing out as the most violent and capricious among them. The author's focus on U.S. involvement in the efforts to hunt Escobar down (and, it is asserted, kill him rather than deliver him to the corrupt Colombian justice system) benefits from some of the same techniques Bowden employed in his previous book: lots of interviews with people involved, coupled with plenty of historical and social background without overloading the reader/listener.
Where KILLING PABLO comes up short, at least in comparison to BLACK HAWK DOWN, is that I don't sense the same bond developed between the author and his subjects: the portrayals of these Colombians and their American advisors/adversaries are not quite fleshed out to the same degree as his sympathetic, all-too-human depictions of the Army Rangers and Somali fighters. This could be simply due to the CD abridgement, but I suspect it may also be due to Bowden's finding these subjects much tougher nuts to crack, culturally speaking. (The BLACK HAWK DOWN audio CD does not have the same shortcoming.)
Still, his portrayal of Escobar as a complex, very flawed and probably not-quite-sane individual wins points, and the climactic scenes of the chase leading to Escobar's death approach the kind of high drama Bowden best exhibited in his previous work. It's good stuff, but if you had to choose between the two, I recommend going with BLACK HAWK DOWN.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Pablo Escabar grows from a local bandit to the feared leader of Columbia's Medellin Drug Cartel. Despite a calm personality, he is a ruthless killer, responsible for hundreds of murders. When Paplo aspires for public office, the Columbian Government, backed by U.S. agents, decide to stop him. Civil war breaks out in the country and the stakes increase. As the situation deteriorates, the hunters take on many of Pablo's worst characteristics. Capturing Pablo won't be enough. The goal is to kill him.
Mark Bowden, author of 'Black Hawk Down', is a gifted researcher and storyteller. The enjoyment and intensity glows during the hunt, but cools as the author at times piles on too much background and statistics. Overall, 'Killing Pablo' is a great tale, demonstrating, again, the power of well-written non-fiction.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sharon hardin
If you don't have a lot of free time but like reading well-researched and suspenseful books, this is just the one for you. Mark Bowden has left out the dry and dull information that less-experienced writers often leave in. He has managed to keep only the best - a sure sign of a gifted writer who knows what readers need to know -and who also knows that they don't need a lot of unnecessary padding of the facts. I couldn't put this one down, riveted by the story of Pablo Escobar, his beyond-the-boundaries, risky life and the final conclusion. I don't mean to be vague here but I absolutely HATE it when reviewers give away all the details of a book so I hope this whets your appetite for the rest. Congratulations, Mr. Bowden, for a job well done!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lois bujold
As a journalist in Philadelphia, Mark Bowden learned which stories captivate readers and how to tell the stories in a way that keeps them moving. "Killing Pablo" tells the story of Pablo Escobar, the Columbian durg lord, and the coalition of American and Columbian politicians and law enforcement who set out to bring him down.

Bowden's writing really gives you a sense of just how different life in Columbia is from what most of us are accustomed. The extra-legal dealings of Escobar are conducted almost entirely out in the open with only the thinnest pretenses of legitimacy. Escobar gives freely and generously to his community and is the largest "philanthropist" in Columbia.

In the end, this ends up being an engaging story and an interesting look into a whole different world from the one in which we live every day. Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This is a well-researched, highly detailed account. I would like to have read more about the details of how Escobar ran his organization. Bowden extolls Escobar acheivements, heavily emphasizing his power and influence, noting that Escobar was at one point the seventh richest person in the world, but doesn't discuss the internal operations or structure of his empire. However, the book is mainly about the effort to assasinate Escobar, so I guess Bowden didn't make any sort of commitment to discuss those other things. He does spend some time relating Escobar's personal history and roughly sketches his rise to prominence.

The book gets a little dull towards the end. No fault of Bowden's, really. It's just that the actual history eventually becomes somewhat dull and repetitive. Despite that, I'd recommend the book because most of it is interesting.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This book is interesting for the same reason "The Sopranos" is interesting: a book about a topic that is cloaked in secretive, violent, and exciting imagery. But the actual accounts are vague, told from the standpoint of second, third, fourth-hand accounts. After all, a lot of people died in the cartel wars.
At one point in the book, Bowden does basically say that the book was spawned from his researching the ordeal in Somalia that led to "Black Hawk Down." The same people doing surveillence in Africa were that same that were in Medellin watching Escobar. That leads me to believe this topic was an afterthought, and Bowden is milking the agents who were working both Medellin and Somalia for all the books they are worth.
But, this book is entertaining, but as for historical accuracy, only Escobar would be able to tell us the truth, and he's not talking.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
darren king
Killing Pablo is a hard-hitting book that truly represents the brutal reality of the war in Colombia. As a Special Forces Master Sergeant with multiple tours in Colombia I can honestly say that Mark Bowden has done a masterful job of encapsulating this conflagration by describing the events that led to the rise and fall of one of its most notorious figures-Pablo Escobar. Bowden starts off by giving a brief history of the war in Colombia, starting with La Violencia, and then of course the current Narco war that is currently consuming Colombia. The events are taken from various sources and Mr. Bowden does a superb job of describing, in detail, what lengths the US and Colombia went through to take down one of the largest criminal empires in history. The book ends with questions that we as American should be asking ourselves. Is it worth the effort - in the name of National Security- to selectively target foreign citizens for assassination? My conclusion is incomplete. However, I will say that the removal of Pablo Escobar was nothing more than a tactical victory in a war Colombia and the United States are losing strategically. This book is a must for Special Operations Soldiers, Latin American Historians, Law Enforcement Officers, and anyone who is involved in the policy decisions concerning the US war on drugs.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Since Sept 11, 2001 "Killing Pablo" is of more than historical interest. President Bush, Colin Powell and Dick Cheney are mentioned in a battle against a rich locally powerful drug lord. When the US decides that Pablo Escobar in a threat to the US and to Civilization the hunt is on. Mark Bowman's writes this true tale like a modern thriller, but recent events have made this book riveting.
"These two atrocities would prove to be fatal miskakes. They made Pablo enemies who were far mor powerful than any he had faced before. Downing a comercial airliner was an attack on global civilization. It meant Pablo now posed a direct threat to American citizens, which meant...that some in the Bush Administration believed he could be legally targeted for assasination.... The Avianca bombing made him public enemy number one in the world."
The book tells the tale of the hunt for Pablo in detail and it is not a pretty sight, but it is a tale worth reading.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The full story of the life and times of Pablo Escobar: from his early life of crime as a headstone thief to his brutal rise to the pinnacle of the Medellin drug cartel. Most of the story however, is about how the joint military and intelligence Task Force eventually cornered and killed the drug Kingpin. That Task Force, was led by Ambassador Morris (Buzz) Busby, Navy Seal and ex-DCM for the Conference on Disarmament under Ambassador Louis (Lou) Fields (while I served as part of the US delegation with him.)

The US "Delta Force," in conjunction with the Colombian security forces in an operation called "Centra Spike" had to pull out all of the stops to finally locate and kill the elusive fugitive.

Not since "Black Hawk Down" has Mark Bowden written such a gripping thriller. Anyone who liked Black Hawk Down will love this one too.

Five Stars
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
rhiannon smith
Mark Bowden's "Killing Pablo" is a very well researched law enforcement tale that makes for an enjoyable read. I use the term "law enforcement" loosely because Bowden's main thesis seems to be that the killing of Pablo Escobar was successful only because of the efforts of extralegal vigilante groups that terrorized Escobar's associates and who were helped--at least indirectly--by the U.S. military, DEA, and CIA. Also, capturing the fugitive Escobar was never an option, the understanding was that he would be killed when he was found.
Bowden does a great job of outlining how deep U.S. involvement was in this affair. An incredible amount of money was spent by the U.S. on killing Escobar despite the fact they knew it wouldn't have any appreciable effect on the cocaine supply available to the States. The other subtext of the book is how corrupt and violent Colombia was, and likely still is. If you ever have a chance to interact with Colombians, you will no doubt find them to be the most cultured and worldly Latin Americans there are; it's sad that just below the surface their country is so lawless.
Overall I would recommend the book. I would warn, however, that it is poorly written and certainly poorly edited. There are run-on sentences and many subject confusions that make you have to stop and re-read a paragraph to figure out who Bowden is talking about. If you're a stickler for good prose, it may drive you nuts.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
monica willis
A great book spoiled by eliminating all pictures and maps. Only the List of Illustrations are there for you to read and enjoy! Do not buy the kindle version.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Bowden has done it again with "Killing Pablo" where he takes us through the violent history of the most notorious drug dealer in history. He gives us a history on drugs in Colombia and then vivedly describes how one man basically bribed and terrorized all of Colombia through his sheer brutalness. I knew of Pablo Escobar before I read the book, but did not know the extent to which he went to keep his power. It wasn't until a couple of Americans got killed on a passenger plane that he had blown up that America got directly involved. One has to wonder if he hadn't happened to kill the Americans, would he still be in power today?
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
For a straight journalistic account of how the U.S. Government joined forces with elements of the Colombian government to hunt down and kill Pablo Escobar, "Killing Pablo" brings the goods. The years long pursuit of the man many considered to be the world's most notorious outlaw was punctuated by epic corruption and fantastic levels of sickening violence. All of this author Mark Bowdon scrupulously documents. The problem with the book is that Bowden has no sources who were truly on the inside of Escobar's empire. This is not surprising given that most of his associates were killed. But without first hand accounts of many of the violent incidents, they become a blur of facts that eventually become mind numbing. By all accounts, Escobar was a cunning and ruthless man, but without first hand accounts, the reader really doesn't get to know him. As a result, Bowden's narrative tends to drag after awhile.
Bowden does an excellent job of humanizing the men, both American and Colombian, who were reponsible for Escobar's downfall. But their stories are just not as interesting. Ultimately, at the end of the book Bowden shows just how futile the drug war has been to date. It would be nice to think that the book might help America rethink its drug startegy. But I think that's being overly optomistic.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mayra cordero
Having deployed to Colombia 9 times in counter-narcotics operations, I found Bowden's text extremely enlightening. His sources were very high-up and incredibly generous with their information. I found no point where Bowden's information and analysis contradicted my experience in Colombia. I learned more about our operations in Colombia from Bowden than I did from reading the daily CIA/DEA situation reports.
I found Bowden's writing style to be well paced and properly revealing. I enjoyed following the story he allowed to unfold.
If you think that Bowden is giving away Operational secrets, it's probably not as dire as one would think. There was very little that we did that the locals and hence, the narco-trafickers were not aware of. National Geographic reporters were publishing classified locations and special ops flight schedules in their magazine during our operations. Bowden reveals tactics well after their utility has extinguished.
Bowden does a great job of exposing what is a nearly incredible story of unbridled power and perverted politik. It is a great story and thanks to Bowden, a great read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Bowden has done it again. This is not quite the work of genius that Black Hawk Down was but this is a very engrossing and serious account of a manhunt that came to symbolize many of the challenges we face in the drug war. Pablo Escobar was the richest and most powerful cocaine dealer in the world. He acquired pretensions to enter politics and turn Colombia into a personal fiefdom. The United States government allied with the Colombian government in what became a multi-year campaign that was far harder and far more dangerous than any one would have believed when it began.
In the end Pablo was dead but the drug trade was as powerful and as profitable as ever. Its center of activity had moved from Medellin to Cali and the newer generation of drug lords had learned a lot from watching (and in fact participating in) the campaign against Pablo. In many ways the Cali cartel became the ally of the Colombian and American governments jointly seeking to get rid of Escobar.
This book raises serious questions about the nature of American involvement in the third world. When combined with Black Hawk Down you get a realistic pair of assessments of the limitations of American power and the nature of the grim realities we are trying to change in much of the third world.
This is a very helpful but sobering book for anyone interested in the drug war, in America's role in the world or in a recent skirmish with fascinating ramifications.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
alana saxe
Mark Bowden has certainly leveraged his contacts from Black Hawk Down to gain an insight not afforded to most, regarding the operations of US Special Forces. If you are looking for the fast paced action of Black Hawk Down, I don't think Killing Pablo is at the same level. Despite this, it is an extremely interesting read. I thought more could have been developed regarding some of the non-Delta players, particularly the other intel operators and how they fit into the operation (Centra Spike, CIA, etc...) But for documenting a very elusive and fascinating subject, Bowden has hit the mark once again.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
This book went fast for me. The author's style is fairly direct, which is good given the subject matter (less direct approach leads to bogged down in names and who was where, etc.). On the negative side, occasionally he goes a little too fast and I missed important issues and people. In addition, this book loses a little perspective due to it largely being from the perspective of law enforcement - those who knew Pablo Escobear as associates are largely dead. Overall though, it's like a good piece of crime/manhunt drama.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Even though the events of this story occurred 2-3 decades ago, they are still shocking. How one person could bring an ostensibly democratic country to its knees is difficult to imagine, and yet it happened. The author did a good job researching the book, providing inner thoughts of the key players, and presenting the timeline in a way that made the book difficult to put down. However, the finished product reads like a college paper, not the polished work of a professional. The book could have used a few more rounds of editing and revision before publication.

Note to Kindle readers: the formatting of the Kindle version is rather suboptimal in anything other than the smallest font size. The font typeface itself cannot be adjusted. The chapter forward/backward feature does not work. If there were any pictures or illustrations in the print version of the book, they are not present in the Kindle version.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I heard the unabridged audio version of this book and it it fabulous. Wonderfully told, this story of Pablo Escobar is a grand insight into the world of cocaine trafficing and the drug cartels. Pablo would have indeed succeeded in owning Colombia legitimately had he been a bit withdrawn in projecting himself as the hero and as the victim.
Overall, this book provides a great insight into the poor state of affairs of a typical third-world country, which like so many others, has a great potential that is undermined by massive corruption.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I agree with the review that made the analogy between the events in this book and our present state of the world. As we get further away from Sept. 11, 2001, some of the similarities between the "War on Drugs" and the "War on Terrorism" are downright frightening. However, Bin Laden's a great deal more culpable and vile than the "Robin Hood"/Tony Montana-esque character that Bowden makes Escobar seem. The stakes are clearly higher now than what's set forth in this book.

This book and Bowden's excellent predecessor (and equally relevant) "Black Hawk Down" are required reading for a better understanding of where we may be going, and how we're going to get there.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book tell the amazing story of the rise and fall of the incredibly successful cocaine kingpin and terrorist Pablo Escobar, who became one of the richest billionaires in the world and held the entire country of Colombia hostage for years, while continually a thorn in the side of the US. It raises many moral questions about whether the ends justifies the means in covert US military operations. It is amazing to see the exact toll the drug trade has taken on Colombia and the United States in ways that most people don't realize.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
harvin bedenbaugh
A decent read but not exactly a page turner. The book doesn't get exciting until about two-thirds into it. If you want a quick summary here it is:

Pablo is the worst criminal the world has ever seen. He lives in Colombia and sends more cocaine to the USA than the middle-east sends oil. He is hunted down by a samll team of US covert ops. and easily corruptable Colombian police and military figures. But, trying to locate Pablo using contemporary tactics are not proving effective. Pablo needs to be shifted off balance. To do this, the US assembles an illegal team of indigenous vigilantes called "Los Pepes". Soon afterward, Pablo's organized business operations come to a standstill. Pablo's lawyers, assasins, friends, business associates, and family members begin showing up dead. This undoubtedly causes Pablo to become unsound, causing him to slip up and make traceable phone calls to express his anger and contempt. He is then located and used for target practice. Adios Pablo.

After reading the book (finished it on Dec 27th, 2004) I felt that some of these tactics might work against Osama and Al Zaquari. Or perhaps these tactics are in the works and we will never know about them until years later after both of them are dead.

BlackHawk down was a much better read, as the previous reviewer mentioned. Cheers to Bowden!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
erin harrington
Killing Pablo, By Mark Bowden, is a compelling story of how the Colombian police and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) track down the world's most notorious cocaine Kingpin Pablo Escobar. Mark Bowden starts the book off in Medillin, Colombia in the 1970s - 1980s, talking about the drug war in Colombia starting with Pablo's rise as a drug lord. Pablo started his criminal career with petty theft and eventually progressed to carjacking, drug trafficking, and eventually murder. His drug trafficking extended from Colombia to America were he made most of his money. He would have pilots carry 750,000 dollars of cocaine a month. Pablo bombed a plain leaving Colombia as a message that no one would mess with him, and since there were 2 American passengers on the plane the United States considered him a threat. After the United States got into it every thing started to crumble for Pablo. His shipments were being intercepted by the DEA and he was losing money. He was being tracked by Colombian police and the DEA who were listening on his conversations. The Colombian police took his wife and daughter. His fellow Kingpins started to betray him by helping the police and eventually he was found.
I learned how important it was to find Pablo Escobar in this book. The special operations task force was involved in the manhunt. Pablo killed many innocent people to send a message that he is a force to be reckoned with and will never stop. There were massive raids of his 4 safe houses and every time he got arrested he would be freed. I would recommend this book because it is a book that is interesting and keeps you wanting to know more about Pablo's situation. I recommend this book to people who are interested in man hunts, and drug cartels.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Killing Pablo is the story about the biggest, most notorious and the most ruthless drug smuggler ever lived (and we hope will ever live): Pablo Escobar of Colombia. Bowden investigates humble origins of Escobar (small time car theft) and traces his development as king of the biggest drug cartel ever. At one stage Pablo owned or had a share of majority of drugs coming to the US from Colombia, equating to over $2Bn a year.

Description of Pablo's rise is insightful, particularly in terms of the multiple methods he used to win hearts and minds of people, popular support, threaten, coerce to achieve his goals. This includes putting some money towards social causes (schools, roads, football stadiums) to gain public support; using media and outright false claims in an effort to gain sympathy; killing entire families of any opposition and police to threaten; and bribing the top most government officials to obtain inside-information and shape laws.

In a macabre way, Pablo's (an uneducated street thug) skills at creating and leading a huge empire, masterminding strategies to gain support with and all means, while being on the run is quite impressive.

Overall, the story presents a frightening picture of the power of drug money. His ability to manipulate the media and the people at large in convincing them into how he was a people's person / robin-hood and people falling for it is a lesson in the post 9-11 world and in part explains how Bid Laden is still free.

Colombians who resisted monies, threats, killings of friends and family and attempts on their lives are the real heroes and should be an inspiration to people in similar situations elsewhere. Their extra-ordinary courage in continuing to pursue Pablo despite the setbacks and inconsistent support of authorities and the ultimate success as documented by Bowden is worth a read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I enjoyed this book as much as I enjoyed reading Blackhawk Down. This story is fast moving, and at points frustrating because you see the problems created when US law enforcement, intel, and military organizations compete instead of working together toward a unified goal. Bowden also does a great job of showing the reader why the poor of Columbia loved Pablo, and why the rest of the world saw him for the evil man he was.

All of this is played out in a readable and entertaining fashion. You will enjoy this book from start to finish.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I read the book Killing Pablo by Mark Bowden and I would definitely have to say that this would be my book of choice if I had to choose one from the past year. The book describes in detail the events that happened in Pablo Escobar's life and how he went from the slums of Colombia to the most powerful drug lord in the world.The different literary techniques that were presented throughout the book enhanced the story line and the added details made it very interesting. Each chapter or section of the book was told by a different point of view. I think that this technique made it much easier to actually see how many different people Pablo and his illegal business effected. For example, some of the chapters were told by the various law enforcement groups and explained what exactly they were doing to bring Pablo Escobar down. At the same time, another chapter was told in the Pablo's mother's point of view, which made the reader realize what kind of background Pablo came from and all about the people who actually did care about Pablo as a person rather than for his power or drugs. Much of the slang and vocabulary tended to make the story go by slower just because of the difficulty to read. Because of this factor, I would have to recommend this book to a more advanced or older audience, so that they can fully understand the book. Overall I would definitely recommend this book because of the unique way it is written and the interesting but true story it presents.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jen cross
A great read, with about a dozen or so photos, about one of the richest and most notorious criminals in history. The book briefly describes Escobar's rise to power, with the majority of the story focusing on the efforts of both the U.S. and Colombian governments' to track and kill him. Finding him was very difficult, as Pablo had a great deal of money and friends to assist him. But, with persistance and determination from those who were tracking him, he and his cartel were slowly and methodically destroyed. A fascinating story that shows that no matter how rich or feared a person can become, eventually they will have to answer for their actions if and when they overstep certain boundaries of our society. Pablo did this, and the book's front cover graphically shows the price he paid.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
anthony lancianese
Bowden wrote an excellent book about life of Pablo Escobar. The book reads like fiction, it is dynamic and grabbing. The events of Escobar's life: his rise, political struggle, fights with government, imprisonment, hiding and death are detailed in chronological order. Bowden paints terrifying picture of the war between Columbian people, government, US intelligence and notorious drug cartels. If you do not know much about this fight and Pablo you are likely to be troubled if not shocked by what went on.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
As a mystery writer with my debut novel in its initial release, I enjoy nonfiction works that read like great novels. Mark Bowden's KILLING PABLO is one such book. KILLING PABLO tells the tale of Pablo Escober. Pablo (Mr. Bowden's calls Escober by his first name throughout the book) began as a petty thief and reached the top of his chosen profession. He owned fleets of ships and planes. He had a loyal personal army. He controlled the drug trade for more than a short while. Bowden discusses Pablo's rise and then shows us his fall. KILLING PABLO is a great read. You will enjoy it.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
This is a fast read and is a good account of the efforts to track PE. I wanted more details around Delta Force roll but that may be secret so we only get a glimpse of the role they played. I thought as much build up in finding him that his death would be detailed and lengthy but Mark spelled it out in just 2 pages and were not as remarkable as the story leading up to his death.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Author of both, "Black Hawk Down: a Story of Modern War," and more recently, "The Finish: the Killing of Osama Bin Laden," Mark Bowden has made quite a name for himself in writing about American special operations. "Killing Pablo: the Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw," was published in 2001 but is still a great read almost two decades after the former drug lord's death. Informative yet interesting, Bowden masterfully brings the readers into the action as one gets to know how one man came from nothing to become an internationally wanted criminal, local hero and drug kingpin all at the same time.

Pablo Escobar did not make it into my school curriculum growing up so I had very rudimentary knowledge of arguably the biggest drug lord in history when beginning to read this book. My knowledge of Colombia and the intricate operation to take down Pablo was even more lacking than the baseline recognition of Escobar's name. Bowden expertly portrays the ecomonic and political situation in Colombia around the time Escobar was growing up so even the most novice reader on the subject, like myself, can get a firm grasp of how Escobar gained his power. It is almost inconceivable how a common criminal became one of the most influental people in the world without understanding the poverty and corruption rife in Colombia during that era. While not losing focus of the overall theme of the book, Bowden does a fantastic job familiarizing the reader with Colombian socio-political events.

Following along with Bowden's sound writing style, "Killing Pablo," takes the reader on a journey from the slums of Colombia to riches known to very few in world history to terrorist acts and subsequent targeting by one of the world's most efficient killing machines to this day; the United States military. The manhunt for such a unique criminal has many intricacies that Bowden seemlesly guides readers through, giving in depth personal accounts from various angles of this legendary capture/kill mission. Bowden, like any published other, put in great effort to get first hand accounts and it shows with numerous stories and details one could only know had he or she been around the mission personally.

One great touch was that Bowden gave information from all aspects of the case. While very minute details in how the Colombian government, along with ample monetary, personnel and equipment assistance from the U.S. government, tracked down and killed Pablo is the focal point of the book; readers also get a glimpse into how Pablo was viewed as a hero in his hometown and many other areas of Colombia. Despite being a ruthless cartel boss who dabbled in terrorism, Pablo Escobar also spent a lot of time and money to better living standards for the many kids living in poverty in Colombia. An avid soccer player, Escobar started many leagues for children and was thus loved by many in the same country he terrorized and killed people in (Bowden). In the end, however, Pablo Escobar's horrific acts far outweighed his good deeds and, thanks to Mark Bowden, readers are given a very interesting book as to how Escobar could not escape the far reaching U.S. military and was brought to justice by his own government.

Bowden, Mark (2001). Killing Pablo: the Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw. Penguin Putnam Inc, New York, NY
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
While Love in the Time of Cocaine: Sex, Drugs, and the Colombian Cartel looks at the extended family of the Colombian cartel and how one it's most import assassins-- most wanted by the FBI-- handles his personal affairs, Killing Pablo looks at Pablo Escobar himself. Bowden gives the most accurate historical account of the man. How he became an outlaw, how he thwarted governments all over the world, and how he came to run the most sophisticated drug trafficking business the world has ever known. As the title would indicate, the book also discusses the American/Colombian persecution of Pablo and how he was finally shot and killed by the Colombian police on a rooftop in Los Olivos, Medellin, Colombia. Although the book is historically accurate it is written with the voice of a novelist making it an exciting way to study the chronology of events.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
tamer khattab
don't buy it
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
forrest gaddis
Mark Bowden is well known for his book "Black Hawk Down". This is another master stroke. This book covers every angle from the DEA involvement to the Los Pepes vigilante group responsible for disrupting his operations. Mr. Bowden did a good job keeping my interest from beginning to end. He as always is impartial in his coverage and shows the many angles of the subject matter. As I said in the title this book draws you in like an action novel. I have also read Black Hawk Down and plan on reading Doctor Dealer and anything else Mark Bowden desides to put to paper.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
delores orcutt
Mark Bowden is probably best known for his documentary (which is now a major motion picture) Blackhawk Down. However, his newest book, Killing Pablo deserves the same recognition as its predecessor. Killing Pablo gives one of the most detailed and well-researched accounts of the war on drugs ever written. The book focuses on the leader of the Medellin Cartel, Pablo Escobar, whose Colombian cocaine empire infiltrated deeper into the United States than any other. At its height, Pablo's empire supplied 80% of all the cocaine in the United States. Pablo was mercilessly hunted by both US and Colombian military forces, but the focus on the book is not on the military actions against Pablo Escobar, but on the Pablo himself. Bowden discusses Pablo's social stature, influence, but above all his beliefs and justifications for his less than law-abiding acts. The book also introduces Pablo's opposition and their attempts to silence him. The book, however, does not limit itself to the more publicized military events that composed the war on drugs, but also the political reasoning and personal motivations for eliminating the powerful drug lord.
In Bowden's book, he recalls Escobar's rise to power, his fall, and the hunt for him that would make the Mexican outlaw Pancho Villa proud. Killing Pablo reads like a Clancy novel. Not once did Bowden lose my interest or waste my time with events that were not important to the story. Bowden writes non-fiction like a novelist, always working to a well developed end. I believe this is what makes Killing Pablo so entertaining. Despite the frequent accounts of scenes that would make action movie producers cringe, Bowden is still able to tell a story that is not only accurate, but worth hearing.

Bowden managed to keep my attention, fulfill my needs for action, and satisfy me intellectually. I have not been so satisfied with a non-fiction book since his last, and I hope he continues to publish works of this caliber. It is my opinion that Bowden has constructed one of the greatest works in non-fiction of all time.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
At the risk of echoing every other reviewer, this book falls far short of Bowden's previous effort, Black Hawk Down. Whereas that book provided a unique and thrilling look into a world most of us will never experience firsthand, this book squanders a chance to do the same.
The book begins with a brief history of Columbia and the cocaine trade, including the rise of Pablo Escobar. The bulk of the story concerns the efforts of the Colombian government, with the assistance of the United States, to bring Escobar to justice or kill him. There are tantalizing hints that US covert forces were involved in more than an advisory role, but Bowden does no more than hint. In fact, we barely get to meet the soldiers who are involved with the operation, whereas in Black Hawk Down, we knew them intimately. Ultimately, this is the failing of the book; we want to know in greater detail what risks the soldiers faced in their daily hunt for Escobar. We want to be in their shoes as they go on failed missions and finally succeed, but all we get is the same bare facts that could be gleaned from newspaper accounts.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jas n
This was a gripping recounting of a story that has passed quickly from memory. It is amazing think about the power that men like Pablo Escobar wielded just a few years ago. Bowden recounts Escobar's rise and fall in fascinating detail in this non-fiction work. Much of the book has the pacing and action of a novel.

A minor complaint in the audio version is Bowden's poor Spanish pronunciation. I listened to this book on tape with my brother who is a fluent Spanish speaker and he found the pronunciation quite annoying.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
I found this book to be imformative and interesting. In other reading about the Medellin cartel, it has been difficult for me to find a book that is not dry or not full of over dramatic hollywood descriptions. though this book sometimes has a tendency to get a little too flowery at times, it generally stays on track and delivers the reader and interesting, yet somewhat objective look at Escobar. great for a reader who is not very familiar with the subject of Colombian cocaine distribution and smuggling...
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This book reads like a novel. If this was to be turned into a movie you would think it was a typical action movie that "could never happen in real life". You have a ruthless drug kingpen who basically has the entire government of Columbia hostage. Then you have shadowy vigilante groups not unafraid to resort to violence themselves to kill Pablo. You also have dedicated DEA and Delta operators involved in the chase. This is a very interesting and exciting book. Mark Bowden has great resources within the military/law enforcement community. Highly recommended.
Please Rate The True Story Behind the Hit Series 'Narcos' - Killing Pablo
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