Charles Bowden writes, “this book is not about how the world ends but how a new world is being born.” Murder City explores this new world, focusing on the idea that Mexico is collapsing into a permanent culture of violence. Bowden focuses on Ciudad Juarez, which lies just across the Rio Grande from El Paso. Infamously known as the place where women disappear, last year alone 1,607 people were murdered, a number that is set to accelerate in 2009.
Miss Sinaloa is a beauty queen who loses her mind; her descent into madness becomes a parable for the town itself. As Bowden searches for reasons to explain why so many are dying, he realizes that what is happening in Juarez and other border towns—caught in the crosshairs of the drug and immigration wars—represents the total collapse of civic society.
©2010 Charles Bowden (P)2010 Phoenix
"Bowden calls himself a reporter, and in a pure sense of the word he really is one. He is also an authentic talent.” (The New York Times Book Review)
Texans like myself have been following the narco-problems in Ciudad Juarez for some time. Now journalist comes along to jerk us to reality.
Bowden is one of a small number of journalists who have been willing to spend time in the city during its time of demise. This is a page turner filled with stories and observations from the streets. People interested in true crime will find it great. Others concerned about narco-traffic and what it is capable of doing will be disturbed. Those who will take the time to listen will be warned of what is possible.
Well written and the reading is excellent. You may not agree with the conclusions, but your eyes will be opened.
I enjoyed this book by Charles Bowden, who also narrated it.
He describes the story in his factual, monotone voice, so it's important to get engaged in the story, listen closely, or you may miss key pieces of the book.
This may be on purpose by Bowden, to illustrate the casual savagery, lack of law enforcement, American involvement and Mexican government interests which exists in Juarez.
I found I had to go back over parts to catch back up on the story, as it sometime is a little difficult to stay on top of it, with the slow, unchanging pitch in narration.
However, Bowden's account of the conditions in Juarez are chilling, and his first person description is even more credible. He describes the lawlessness of a city under siege from a citizen's perspective, having interviewed and spent time with innocents living in this city during the writing of this book.
He uses the experiences of real people, for example, Miss Sinaloa, a beauty queen abducted by a Mexican drug cartel and eventually freed only to be placed in a mental institution, as a backdrop to his story. He educates us on the rise of the Mexican cartels, the power and pure brutality which they possess, and the influence on authority and government which allows free range activity south of the border in Juarez.
This book is somewhat of a primer and close-up look into the changing political landscape which includes now includes the drug cartels as a financial power base in Mexico. Its an interesting listen and will bring anybody who reads it up to speed on a situation in Mexico which has escalated in notoriety and presence over the last 7 years.
I would recommend it to readers interested in this topic.
This book should be required reading. Bowden - as far as I can tell - has placed his life in peril by writing this book. Purposeful change is unlikely - if not impossible. The culture is cast in blood and concrete. Sadly, the USA will continue to send millions of dollars in guilt money south of the border, Mexico will continue to misdirect the funds. The country and Ciudad Juarez will continue to be "Murder City". This book is an eye opener and should not be missed.
Charles Bowden was a brilliant & haunted journalist & essayist who braved the terrifying reality of Juarez Mexico in Murder City; a Noirish Pulp tinged chronicle of a city suspended between the economic purgatory of the NAFTA licensed Global Economic World Order which kills it's citizens slowly & methodically, & the hellish nightmare of the murderous caprices of it's Narco Economy-a beast with tentacles whose reach go far beyond the ineffectual Secured Border with the USA. Bowden was a chronicler & witness for the tortured, the disappeared, the gunned down & the silenced, even for the killer El Sicarios who act without hesitation & remorse with the result of THOUSANDS of Undocumented murders.
Charles Bowden reading his own work is compelling & unflinching; a voice from the grave long before his untimely demise this year. If you're a fan of Bukowski, Hunter S. Thompson, William Burroughs, or Tom Waits, his voice will seem familiar and welcome, warning of a realtime Dystopian Present that can be Our Future.
I don't know how much this will help prospective readers, but I can't make up my mind about this book. At times I thought it was beautiful and haunting, others repetitive and dishonest.
This book is written like poetry, and has no coherent structure and shifting themes. Still, it is beautifully written in places, and Bowden's growling, Burroughs-like voice seems perfect for what he is trying to do.
Which begs the question: What is Bowden trying to do? It's never clear, and the same details and observations repeated time after time do not help.
In the end I don't know what to say about this book. I can't recommend it, but there is much to recommend in it.
At any rate, my conclusions regarding this book are no less firm than Bowden's regarding Juarez.
There is no cohesive organization to this book, it is as though the author wrote it in stream of consciousness, just one vignette after another with no direction or purpose. He has no comprehensive thesis other than to say that the drug war is not working, everything we are told about it is a lie and nothing is being done about it.
NOT A GOOD LISTEN. DITCH IT, FIND SOMETHING ELSE, YOU'VE BEEN WARNED. I figured I would give it the benefit of the doubt despite the other bad reviews, I'm not sorry I wasted the credit.
I think I expected something more like prose and this was more like poetry. Very long and circuitous poetry. As I listened to the first 5 minutes, I assumed I was listening to the prologue as it was kind of dry and loose. But no, this was to be the entire book. I hung on hoping for more but it seldom improved.
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