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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 members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
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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.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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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.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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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.

6 of 6 people found this review 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.<br/><br/>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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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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.

4 of 4 people found this review 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 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • richard
  • los angeles, cA, United States
  • 06-24-12

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 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Come on guys! the narrator's not so bad! lol

Where does El Narco rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

mid to the top

What about Paul Thornley’s performance did you like?

He does a solid job, I don't understand why other reviewers on this page have hated on him so much

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

sure

Any additional comments?

top quality journalism

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I can't listen to it...

I have a hard time listening to a British accent read about Mexican cartels. Suggestion; use someone with a Mexican accent!

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Es la verda

one of the best Narco books I have read to date really gives you the back history to the Mexican Narco

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  • Overall
  • 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.

4 of 5 people found this review 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

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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.

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  • Nigel Collier
  • 03-20-14

Comprehensive but irritating

Would you try another book written by Ioan Grillo or narrated by Paul Thornley?

I wouldn't necessarilly avoid a book penned by Grillo, if was on a subject which really interested me, but I may look elsewhere first. I would definitely NOT listen to another audiobook narrated by Thornley.

What other book might you compare El Narco to, and why?

I was prompted to get some background on the drug business in Mexico after watching Breaking Bad and I've not read any other books about the subject - organised crime and the drug business don't really interest me so I have nothing to compare it to.

How could the performance have been better?

Paul Thornley's narration was lightweight. His breathy, urgent delivery became irritating to listen to after about 10 minutes - to endure it throughout an entire audiobook really detracts from the content.

If this book were a film would you go see it?

No, it's not really a book with a 'narrative' since it's more a history of the drugs business. I'd watch Breaking Bad instead. There is material for movies in this book (indeed some of the hisitory it relates have been made into some pretty famous movies), but I'm sure there are more in there. There was no mention of Peter McAleese's failed assassination mission on Pablo Escobar, which would make very interesting viewing.

Any additional comments?

Grillo's research was detailed, but I found his writing style puzzling at times. He continually refers to cannabis as 'hallucinogenic'; as a British writer he uses American and English terms jarringly and inconsistently - cars have 'trunks' and chess is compared to 'checkers' and lieutenants are pronounced 'loo-tenants', but then he sticks in some British references which would be lost on Americans ('nutjobs'?).

0 of 2 people found this review helpful