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This is a companion article with regard to my earlier book review Killing Pablo. Pablo Escobar: Beyond Narcos by Shaun Attwood is another take on the true story of Pablo Escobar and the Medellín Cartel beyond their portrayal on Netflix. If you’ve watched Narcos on Netflix, you’ll love this book. Shaun Attwood describes the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar as a devoted family man and at the same time, a psychopathic killer.
Pablo Escobar: Beyond Narcos by Shaun Attwood is not about the standard good versus evil telling of Pablo’s story just like we read in Killing Pablo. In Shaun Attwood’s version of the Pablo story, the authorities were not hunting Pablo to stop his cocaine business but were working on taking over it. Pablo became so wealthy that he was targeted by predators ranging from the Cali Cartel to George HW Bush. You will be left wondering who is the villain here, Pablo or George HW Bush.
Shaun Attwood is a London-based best-selling author with more than 100,000 copies sold. He is a former stock-market millionaire and Ecstasy supplier turned public speaker, author and activist, who is banned from entering the USA for life. His story was featured on National Geographic Channel as an episode of Locked Up/Banged Up Abroad called Raving Arizona. (available on YouTube).
Once I started reading the book, it was very hard to put it down. You already know that I like non-fiction books because they help me go to sleep. This one, like Killing Pablo, is different. Each chapter kept me going, as if I am in a rush to finish the book, I was basically hooked to this. The research made on the history of cocaine smuggling was well presented. There are chapters that give excellent details on the people that somehow were influential in the life of Pablo, from friends to enemies.
The book is divided in the following chapters:
Chapter 01 Early Years
Chapter 02 Trafficking Cocaine
Chapter 03 Carlos Lehder and George Jung
Chapter 04 History of Cocaine
Chapter 05 Death to Kidnappers
Chapter 06 Lara Bonilla
Chapter 07 Barry Seal
Chapter 08 The Extraditables
Chapter 09 Colonel Ramirez and Cano
Chapter 10 Arrests
Chapter 11 War
Chapter 12 George HW Bush and CIA Drug Trafficking
Chapter 13 Diana Turbay
Chapter 14 Father Garcia
Chapter 15 The Cathedral
Chapter 16 On the Run
Chapter 17 People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar
Chapter 18 Demise
Chapters 1 to 4 delve into Escobar’s young life onwards, the environment he emerged from and challenges the reader to make their own judgment of how they’d cope in similar circumstances. Included also is how Carlos Lehder and George Jung played their roles in the history of cocaine smuggling to the USA. The rise of the Medellin Cartel, the smuggling routes and methodologies employed to smuggle cocaine into the USA are also dealt with.
Chapters 5 to 11 deal with the criminal life of Pablo and the people involved with his story. A whole chapter was given into the Medellin Cartel’s fight against communist rebels who made a mistake of kidnapping one of the cartel leader’s sister. And lastly, there is a lengthy discussion how Pablo founded “The Extraditables,” a group, composed mostly of memebers of the Medellin Cartel, fighting against extradition to the USA.
Chapter 12 is a in-depth discussion in the role of the USA with drug trafficking particularly the CIA and George HW Bush.
Chapter 13 deals with the kidnapping of Diana Turbay, a journalist and daughter of a former Colombian president. Her kidnapping, and death, was the deciding factor to make the Colombian government go after Pablo.
Chapters 14 to 15 tells us the story of Father Garcia and how he brokered the deal for Pablo to surrender to the authorities and how his prison, La Catedral, was built. It is interesting to know the life that Pablo and his henchmen had in La Catedral. Makes me wonder if it is really a prison or a safe haven from their enemies.
Chapters 16 to 18 is all about Pablo’s escape from prison. It also digs deeper with regard to the rise of Los Pepes. And lastly, how Pablo died.
The Conclusion by the author deals with the topic of the cocaine black market and how it will never end until the futile drug laws are revised. The author uses the Mexican cartels as a prime example which makes this story relevant to our day and age.
Since Killing Pablo is the more established book about Pablo Escobar, I am having a hard time saying if this book is better. Although this has more juicier details, I am not sure if it is just a “conspiracy theory” type of book. I will leave you to be the judge of that. All in all, this is a compelling read and is a good add-on to Narcos and Killing Pablo. I highly recommend this book. This is not a waste of your time and I guarantee that you will be hooked once you start reading this.