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Publisher's Summary

This explosive novel of the drug trade takes you deep inside a world riddled with corruption, betrayal, and bloody revenge.

Art Montana is an obsessive DEA agent. The Barrera brothers are heirs to a drug empire. Nora Hayden is a jaded teenager who becomes a high-class hooker. Father Parada is a powerful and incorruptible Catholic priest. Callan is an Irish kid from Hell's Kitchen who grows up to be a merciless hit man. All of them are trapped in the world of the Mexican drug Federación.

From the streets of New York City to Mexico City and Tijuana to the jungles of Central America, this is the war on drugs like you've never seen it.

©2005 Don Winslow (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A pit bull of a book. Once unleashed, this thriller...charges and attacks without mercy, shredding anyone in its path....A well-tuned plot, driving rhythm, intelligence and a touch of politics." ( Washington Post)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Deborah
  • shallotte, NC, United States
  • 01-06-11

Gripping Drama

I haven't been drawn into a book this deeply in a long time, perhaps since The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. Though it has a few weaknesses (could have left the romance-novel-type stuff out), it is truly a powerful story wrapped around recent history. Bad stuff happens and dire deeds are done, even by the good guys. The only real complaint I have is that not having a book to page back through, I sometimes forgot who a particular character was or how he connected. Initial chapters are focused on only one of the main characters. The narration is stunning - I can't believe one guy did all those totally complete and separate voices. I immediately recognized each character by their voice. Wonderful job and I hope to hear more from him.

This book has extremely graphic sadistic violence in it, but that's reality.

Five star read.

52 of 53 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • David
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 07-17-12

Porter is simply brilliant

There are a lot of very good narrators and readers in the world of audible books, but there are far fewer really accomplished voice actors. In that rather small company, Ray Porter stands out as among the very best of the best. He peoples this book with a full cast of very distinct characters, each with his/her own speech pattern and vocal timbre. In addition, his facility with dialect is extraordinary. Doing a single Italian or Mexican or Irish voice convincingly is difficult. Creating a range of Italians, Irish or Mexicans, each distinct, consistent and steeped in the life of the character is nearly impossible. Porter does it and makes it sound effortless. I have spent a lifetime as an actor/director/theatre teacher and I have never heard it done better.

Happily, as many reviewers have made clear, Porter is given a rich and varied set of characters to work with. Together the author and the actor provide us with a five star experience, and along the way they school us in the history and nature of the greed/power wars north and south of the border. Highly recommended!

73 of 78 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Great book, great narrator

I never watched the movie "Savages," based on Winslow's book, because I'd heard it was really violent and graphic. The Power of the Dog is as well, and if you're squeamish like me, there will be parts you'll want to fast-forward through, or at least turn down the volume for a few minutes. Still, it's not gratuitous violence and gore. It feels just right for the story.

And the story is incredible -- fast-paced and eye-opening, it made me want to learn more about the failed "war on drugs" and the Mexican cartels. It's a little bit horrifying to think of how many parties (including government officials) play both sides, and play dirty. The US doesn't come out smelling like a rose, either. But I never got the feeling that Winslow had a bias toward one side, or any particular point of view. He seems to want to lay out the facts, and let us decide how we feel about it. But in doing so -- in laying out the facts in a fictional way -- he tells a darn good story, one that keeps you engrossed. The characters are fleshed-out nicely (which is no small feat, considering how many there are), and there are plenty of surprises along the way. There is humor and pathos in this novel, and writing of a caliber you don't often find in genre fiction.

Finally, I loved the narration by Ray Porter. His voice is so pleasant, his reading so smooth, his diction so perfect, I felt like the story was placed in the hands of a master. He did a wonderful job with numerous accents and ages -- whether a craggy Southerner (American, that is) a New York gangster, a young Irish woman, or an aging Mexican priest. His Spanish pronunciation was excellent.

I haven't even finished the book, and I'm back on Audible to buy "The Cartel," (fortunately also narrated by Ray Porter). I highly recommend "The Power of the Dog."

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


I started listening to this last summer on my jogs outside in the Texas heat. Holy cow the intensity of this book was more than enough!

I loved the rich plot. Nice & detailed & complex - and I know this sounds stupid, but: LONG! :) It was fun to have a nice "thick" book to enjoy for so long.

Loved the characters & especially the satisfying resolution at the end.

31 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • G. Steyn
  • Newton, MA United States
  • 06-10-09

Good book, improved by narrator

Winslow is trying to teach readers about the history of the drug war vis a vis Mexico. On the one hand, the story itself is often exciting, but the stretches of history and philosophizing could be a bit dull if you know about US involvement in El Salvador, Colombia, etc.

However, all credit to Ray Porter, the narrator, who manages to make each of these mini-history lessons sound different from each other, and to inject emotion into them. He also manages to make the occasionally purple prose go by smoothly, so that we can focus on the story, which is really worth hearing.

26 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • Leslie
  • Sausalito, CA, United States
  • 04-29-12

Amazing Novel, Excellent Narration

As I've seen in other comments on this book, I wasn't sure I wanted to get into a heavy book on the drug wars, but it had such good reviews I decided to check it out.

This is a very, very good novel! Well written, great dialogue, thought-provoking political insights, personal dramas. It is sometimes quite heavy, but worth it. There are a lot of characters and a lot of details, so can be a little hard to follow if you aren't paying attention, but the story flows quite well, so for the most part, it isn't a problem.

The narration is absolutely the top. Amazing how this narrator switches effortlessly between Italian Mafia to Mexican to Anglo accents. Perfect delivery and timing on the dialogue and story.

One of the best novels I've listened to!

38 of 42 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

And here lies the problem...

What made the experience of listening to The Power of the Dog the most enjoyable?

I spent 32 years chasing narco in Los Angeles. Did I make a difference? Did I put a dent in the trade. Was it all worth it? The answer is no. We never caught the big guys, we only reeled in the little fish. The narrative in this book rings true. The violence is real and believe me the 5 Freeway continues to be a narcotics super highway to this day. The dope goes north and the money goes south. The politicians don't care. We still have an open border with Mexico. The bad guys laugh at us. Just like the book.

Ray Porter is an incredible narrator and brings the Power of the Dog to life. My only beef is the author needs to pay attention to some minor details concerning firearms. A "service revolver" does not have a "safety". You can't release the safety on a revolver before firing it because there is NO safety. The M-60 machine gun fires 7.62mm rounds and is not a "50 caliber". Hearing these descriptions made me cringe as everything else about the narco trade and their antics is spot on.

Authors should check firearm references before publication with someone familiar with weapons and their functionality. I can't fault Don Winslow for including some accurate references to the Marine Corps and Camp Pendleton. For that, he gets a Semper Fi from me.

I'm looking forward to the sequel.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Berserk
  • Brookyln, NY, United States
  • 07-22-12


Amazing simply amazing. This is Don Winslow at his very best. Surprisingly there are a ton of great historic facts in the novel. The strange thing is this should be a work of historic fiction. The characters are deep and you never know exactly whats going to happen next. There is plenty of action and suspense plus an air of much needed complexity to the plot, that is lacking in lot of novels out there right now. The best part of this book is once your done with it your going to have a pretty good understanding of the Drug War and the CIA's operations within latin America. GET THIS BOOK!

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Compelling tale of the modern day drug trade.

I rate "The Power of the Dog" a 4.5. Don Winslow has written a first rate thriller that also provides the reader with insights into America's so-called "War on Drugs." Entertaining, substantive, and compelling - I loved "The Power of the Dog." I will make a confession: I hesitated on purchasing "The Power of the Dog" for weeks. I wasn't sure I was in the mood for a thriller. The story creates the mood. Just listen and go for along for the ride.

23 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • 9S
  • 12-06-09

Grabs you and won't let go!!

'The Power of the Dog' is a harrowing account of the "Mexican Trampoline" -- aka the trafficking of cocaine from Medellin to Honduras to Mexico to the States. The story is made more complex by collusion between the Mafia, Mexican drug lords and an American government that turns a blind eye to the rampant coke shipments.

DEA operative Art Keller is a tortured sole at the heart of 'Dog'. He embarks upon a 30 year war to take down the Mexican drug cartels. The protagonist is obsessed with evil and he is willing to conquer it no matter the personal cost. His journey is rocky and terrifying. The brutality of the drug lords is shocking but mesmerizing. Also, Winslow does a great job of showing how futile the war on drugs really is. ENJOY.

29 of 34 people found this review helpful