• El Narco

  • The Bloody Rise of Mexican Drug Cartels
  • By: Ioan Grillo
  • Narrated by: Paul Thornley
  • Length: 13 hrs and 17 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (709 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The world has watched stunned at the bloodshed in Mexico. Thirty thousand murdered since 2006; police chiefs shot within hours of taking office; mass graves comparable to those of civil wars; car bombs shattering storefronts; headless corpses heaped in town squares. The United States throws Black Hawk helicopters and drug agents at the problem. But in secret, Washington is confused and divided about what to do. "Who are these mysterious figures tearing Mexico apart?" they wonder.

What is El Narco?

This book draws the first definitive portrait of Mexico's drug cartels and how they have radically transformed in the last decade. El Narco is not a gang; it is a movement and an industry drawing in hundreds of thousands from bullet-ridden barrios to marijuana-growing mountains. And it has created paramilitary death squads with tens of thousands of men-at-arms from Guatemala to the Texas border. Journalist Ioan Grillo has spent a decade in Mexico reporting on the drug wars from the front lines. His piercing book joins testimonies from inside the cartels with first-hand dispatches and unsparing analysis. The devastation may be south of the Rio Grande, El Narco shows, but America is knee-deep in this conflict.

©2012 Ioan Grillo (P)2012 Audible Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Grillo’s book is terrific - full of vivid front-line reporting; diverse interviews; a sense of history; a touch of social science; clarifying statistics; and realistic reviews of what might be done to improve things, none of it easy. It is essential reading." (Steve Coll, NewYorker.com)

What listeners say about El Narco

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great book ruined by bad narration

What did you love best about El Narco?

Interesting, engaging and well-documented history of Mexican narco-trafficking.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

I tried hard to overlook the narration, but it was so distracting that I have to say it ruined the experience, and I gave up. The narrator read a journalistic, non-fiction work as if it were a novel, with a breathless, dramatic voice entirely inappropriate to the genre. To make matters worse, he pronounces many of the Mexican place names and words with a Castillian accent (pronouncing "c" as "th"), then, inexplicably, completely mispronounces some of the most important Mexican Spanish words, even by Castillian standards ("Gualalupe" as "gwadaloop"). I hope this book is recorded by a different narrator so I can try it again.

39 people found this helpful

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Assassinate the Narrator

What disappointed you about El Narco?

Bad, bad narrator. He reads as if this were poetry, not a serious work of nonfiction. And he's an *annoying* poet, relishing each sentence as if it were a work of art, and pausing dramatically between them so all the beauty has time to sink in.

I don't think I'm going to be able to finish the book. I'm not sure I'll even manage to finish the first chapter.

Would you recommend El Narco to your friends? Why or why not?

No. The narrator ruins it.

Would you be willing to try another one of Paul Thornley’s performances?

I would sooner kill myself.

30 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

The narrator make listening a chore

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

It is a good history

Would you be willing to try another one of Paul Thornley???s performances?

Not if he read the same way. He finishes every sentence at a whisper. You can have the volume uncomfortably loud so you can hear the whole sentence, or strain to hear the end of the sentence at normal volume.

12 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Good book, not so good narration.

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Narrator difficult to follow..sentences start boldly and end in a whisper. Is he trying to add some drama with this tactic?

What was one of the most memorable moments of El Narco?

The introduction, if I had been able to folllow the narrator.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Difficult to hear because of the modulation changes in his voice. I have listened to many Audible books and never have experienced such poor quality.

What character would you cut from El Narco?

It is hard to say, I quit trying to listen to the book at the end of chapter 2.

11 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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A NOBY Nominee

Is there an award like the Razzie for worst audio performance? Maybe a Nails-On-Blackboard award? A NOBY? If so I would like to nominate Mr. Paul Thornley’s performance in this book.

Although he is a professionally trained actor, I can honestly say I’ve heard more vocal variation and feeling from a prerecorded message than he delivers here.
This book may contain the secrets of the universe but I’ll never know --- it was too painful a listen.

One thing that puzzles me. From the time the narration is complete to the time the book is purchased, how many people listen to it for quality? Three? One? None? None would be my guess for this book because no hearing person could listen to it and say “Yep, this one is good to go”

If I were the author and had spent months researching, writing and re-writing a book that actually made it to publishing and THEN had it swept under the rug by dreadful narration, I’d be more than upset.

21 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Narration is...woof

If you are going to narrate a book about Latin America, why pronounce words with a Catalan accent? Thornley speaks like an American college kid that spent 5 months studying abroad in Barcelona and now thinks they are cultured and that everyone pronounces an s, c, or z with a “th”....Thiudad Juareth?...come on man.

4 people found this helpful

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excellent overview

This is the book I was looking for when I bought "Murder City" and was disappointed with the lack of factual information.
Just this morning the news reported four reporters have been killed by the Zeta cartel in the last week. This book informs the reader about, what, where, and why, to an amazing degree of detail on this frightening and very current state of chaos south of our border. It is tragic and building up into a huge mess that will affect us all sooner or later.
I found it well written, well read and very interesting.
I highly recommend it.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Another irritating narrator

Generally informative despite the hyperbolic, irritatingly breathless narrator and frequently jarring disjointed construction. Worthwhile though sometimes tedious.

1 person found this helpful

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absolutely comprehensive.

if you are looking for the story of the Mexican drug trade, this is it.

it reminded me of the book paddywhacked by TJ English. the business is explained to you, the people, the politics behind everything, how and why the violence is so bad and why there is so much of it. I recommend listening to this book.

The narrator was fine. not the best but not the worst, and it never took me out of the story. I recommend El Narco to anyone wondering about the history of the drug cartels.

1 person found this helpful

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Very informative

If you could sum up El Narco in three words, what would they be?

I never knew all this went on.

Who was your favorite character and why?

There wasn't any one main character in this particular book.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The narrator could have added some inflection to his reading and I think his pauses were a little bit too long.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • James
  • 09-03-12

Narration is awful!

Arghhhh - I was really looking forward to this coming out on audiobook but alas my expectations were crushed by the appalling narration. Why on earth must the narrator put ludicrous pauses at the end of almost ever sentence. It's incredibly annoying and frankly after about 15 minutes of listening to him I had had more than enough. If there was a way to return a download I surely would. Also - the narrator also like to insert strangely unnatural volume accents on the wrong words. If I were the author I would have vetoed this reading before it went out.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Don't normally review
  • 10-30-17

factual but a bit dull

felt like a study rather then an interesting exciting read/listen.

but still had it's moments

4 people found this helpful

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  • TheBlackSausage
  • 10-27-21

Narrator was fine

I found that the narrator was fine, and engaging. Don’t be put off from some of the reviews. This is my second book from Ioan Grillo now, his work is a refreshing and insightful; and provides a comprehensive look at different perspectives and audiences of the war on drugs. Highly recommended for those who want wider reading around the material.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Hampus Willfors
  • 08-04-20

Warning! Ioan Grillo not reading

Saw some other comment complaining about the narrator. Did not think much of it until I actually bought the audio book. Stopped after five minutes into the book. There is no way I can listen to this. Hopefully this can be released with Ioan Grillo reading it as he has a great voice and a major reason I bought the audio book in the first place. I recommend don’t buy this until they change to Grillo. Wasted money as I won’t listen to it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Christopher McHarg
  • 05-17-17

Outstanding

I average two to three books a month and this is possibly the best one yet. Outstanding knowledge, research and depth.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • A. Stewart
  • 01-06-22

Excellent!

Disturbing In depth study of the horror that's happening in Mexico and the solution that has been same throughout history prohibition doesn't work!
Don't be put off by reviews about narrator, given in a no nonsense tone with time to reflect.
Best book I've read-heard on Mexico so far!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Taylor's
  • 06-03-21

Very interesting, very detailed

In parts I found this hard to follow as it jumped around the timelines in different sections but throughout the book it was powerful detailed and quite harrowing.

Not necessarily an enjoyable listen but an educating and eye opening one.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Hester Dunlop
  • 03-31-21

el narco

well told story of the drug wars in Mexico . Relentless and could have done with some narrative threads , read more like a series of long newspaper reports . 🇴

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Joe Higgs
  • 03-23-21

Interesting but nothing special

An interesting background but nothing special or new. The latter chapters are the best part by far.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Emmet
  • 03-10-21

awful narration

I was really looking forward to this but the narration is awful !!
overly dramatic pauses break up the story into monotonous snippets and ruin the flow of a story that should effortlessly tell itself.
sadly I cannot recommend.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-22-19

great in depth read

easy reading if mexico interests you. covers evert. would love to read a follow book

1 person found this helpful