[BOOK REVIEW] Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw

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Killing Pablo Book Cover Killing Pablo
Mark Bowden
Biography & Autobiography
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
April 14, 2015

A riveting nonfiction thriller reveals the inside story of how U.S. special forces and intelligence agencies led the largest manhunt in history to capture and contain Colombian cocaine cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar, one of the most powerful and wealthiest outlaws ever known. 150,000 first printing. $150,000 ad/promo.

Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drug lord and his story.

Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw by Mark Bowden, is the story of the manhunt for Colombian cocaine cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar, which lasted for more than a year. Pablo Escobar was the leader of the Medellin Cartel, an organized network of drug dealers that originated in Medellin, Colombia.  His escape from his lavish, mansionlike jail, called La Catedral, drove Colombia to the brink of chaos.

In my previous posts, I already said that I love non-fiction books because they help me get to sleep.  Killing Pablo is an exemption.  It was very hard to put it down.  While reading the book, I was in a hurry to finish it up, absorbing all the juicy details told in the book.

This is a gripping, up-close account by the acclaimed journalist Mark Bowden, the best selling author of Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, as well as The Best Game Ever, Bringing the Heat, and Guests of the Ayatollah.  Mark Bowden tells the story of how U.S. military and intelligence operatives covertly led the mission to find and kill Pablo Escobar, who at that time was classified as the world’s most dangerous outlaw. Based on interviews with the soldiers, field agents, and officials involved in the chase, as well as his access to hundreds of pages of top-secret documents and transcripts of Escobar’s intercepted phone conversations.  Mark Bowden created a narrative as if you were reading a fictional thriller.

Major points in the book…

Killing Pablo starts with the story of Escobar’s rise to power and how he built a criminal organization that would hold his country hostage.  The book then details his first war both against the Cali Cartel and the Colombian government. Then it proceeds to Pablo’s surrender and imprisonment.  However, his prison La Catedral, was built by Pablo making it his new headquarters and a safe haven from his enemies.  When the Colombian government planned to move Pablo to a regular jail, he decided to escape and that started the manhunt that lasted for 16 months which ended on December 2, 1993.

The next chapters details the role of Pablo’s hunters, the Search Bloc and Los Pepes, who put relentless pressure on both Pablo and his associates.  A lot of detail was provided on the role of Los Pepes in the hunt.

And lastly, we go on to the chapters that led to the kill itself.

People who helped bring Pablo down…

Mark Bowden placed much emphasis on a few men who ultimately led to Pablo’s death.  They include Steve Jacoby, the leader of Centra Spike, the ultrasecret U.S. special forces team that would use cutting-edge surveillance technology to find Pablo. There is also Morris Busby, U.S. ambassador to Colombia, who would convince the Bush administration to approve the deployment of the shadowy Delta Force operators who assisted the Search Bloc.  And Col. Hugo Martinez, the leader of Colombia’s federal police, who would turn down a $6 million bribe, survive countless attempts on his life, and endure a humiliating exile while waging his battle against the drug lord’s criminal empire. It was Martinez’s son, also a policeman, who would ultimately track Pablo to a Bogota rooftop on the fateful day in 1993 when the outlaw would finally meet his end.

pablo escobar

The Netflix series Narcos, both Season 1 and Season 2, told the story in an engaging audio/visual format.  However, the creators of Narcos took some artistic liberties to tell the story.  Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw by Mark Bowden is a far more excellent choice as you get more factual detail.  And I guarantee you, my readers, that you will enjoy reading this book.

Another book about Pablo Escobar is Pablo Escobar: Beyond Narcos which is about the mind-blowing true story of Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel beyond their portrayal on Netflix.