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Gangster Warlords

Written by: Ioan Grillo
Narrated by: James Cameron Stewart
Length: 14 hrs and 55 mins
Categories: History, Americas

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Publisher's Summary

In a ranch south of Texas, the man known as The Executioner dumps 500 body parts in metal barrels.

In Brazil's biggest city, a mysterious prisoner orders hit men to gun down 41 police officers and prison guards in two days.

In Southern Mexico a meth maker is venerated as a saint while enforcing Old Testament justice on his enemies.

A new kind of criminal kingpin has arisen: part CEO, part terrorist, and part rock star, unleashing guerrilla attacks, strong-arming governments, and taking over much of the world's trade in narcotics, guns, and humans. What they do affects you now - from the gas in your car to the gold in your jewelry to the tens of thousands of Latin Americans calling for refugee status in the US.

Gangster Warlords is the first definitive account of the crime wars now wracking Central and South America and the Caribbean, regions largely abandoned by the US after the Cold War.

Author of the critically acclaimed El Narco, Ioan Grillo has covered Latin America since 2001 and gained access to every level of the cartel chain of command in what he calls the new battlefields of the Americas. Moving between militia-controlled ghettos and the halls of top policy makers, Grillo provides a disturbing new understanding of a war that has spiraled out of control - one that people across the political spectrum need to confront now.

©2016 Ioan Grillo (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Grillo's investigations into the cokehead brokers, dealers and professional killers who manage the supply and demand of cocaine involves him in a degree of danger.... An absorbing work of reportage." ( Daily Telegraph)
"Grillo is a breathtakingly intrepid reporter, diving in where police fear to tread, seeking out men who wouldn't hesitate to kill him.... A grim, gripping book." (Francis Wheen, Mail on Sunday)

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  • Nick Anderson
  • 26-01-17

the greatest insight you could have!

phenomenal delivery and more depth into a secret world that would be impenetrable to the normal person

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mr
  • 02-10-17

Intriguing, enlightening and horrifying.

I honesty thought Grillo might have been pulling my leg at some points in this book. Such as when he described the written litanies of prayer members of one Mexican drug cartel say to their founder, or the fervent socialist selling rocks of crack to the people he claims to be fighting for. But a few minutes on google confirms all these to be true, adding surreal colour to the doleful litany of murder and torture that forms the backdrop to all the people and groups he profiles, and is careful not to glamorize.

He also does an excellent job of conveying to someone who comes from a completely different world, why these loathsome bands of thugs and predators often enjoy a surprising degree of support in the communities they blight. Thriving not only through fear, but by offering a ghastly alternative government to impoverished people who feel utterly abandoned and betrayed by the authorities.

This book is well researched (at obvious risk to the author and many of his sources), well told, and opened my eyes to a world I knew little about. It's a depressing commentary on the western media that we hear almost nothing about a whole slew of countries that are in a state of de-facto civil war between gangsters and government.

The one slight criticism I have is that I would have liked a smattering of global context to get a better idea of whether this is a phenomenon more pronounced in Latin America than elsewhere.

Narrator is also very good.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jon
  • 22-04-18


Incredibly compelling book. Grillo has a very engaging style which really drills into this hugely complex subject. He offers an immense amount of detail which supports his reasoning and conclusions.
I will be picking up his earlier work asap.