pablo escobar beyond narcos

[BOOK REVIEW] Pablo Escobar: Beyond Narcos

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Pablo Escobar Book Cover Pablo Escobar
Shaun Attwood
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
August 25, 2016

The mind-blowing true story of Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel beyond their portrayal on Netflix. Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar was a devoted family man and a psychopathic killer; a terrible enemy, yet a wonderful friend. While donating millions to the poor, he bombed and tortured his enemies - some had their eyeballs removed with hot spoons. Through ruthless cunning and America's insatiable appetite for cocaine, he became a multi-billionaire, who lived in a $100-million house with its own zoo. Pablo Escobar: Beyond Narcos demolishes the standard good versus evil telling of his story. The authorities were not hunting Pablo down to stop his cocaine business. They were taking over it. Shaun Attwood's War on Drugs trilogy - Pablo Escobar, American Made, and We Are Being Lied To - is a series of harrowing, action-packed and interlinked true stories that demonstrate the catastrophic consequences of drug prohibition."

This is a companion article with regard to my earlier book review Killing PabloPablo 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).

pablo escobar beyond narcos

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.