A Narco History: How the United States and Mexico Jointly Created the "Mexican Drug War"

Carmen Boullosa and Mike Wallace. OR Books, $17 trade paper (250p) ISBN 978-1-939293-79-4
Mexican novelist Boullosa and Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Wallace analyze Mexico's unending and increasingly violent conflicts over the production, transport, and sale of illegal drugs. They begin in September 2014 with the wrenching tale of 43 students from a rural teacher-training college. After the students crossed local authorities who were intimately connected to major drug cartels, they were abducted and murdered. The authors emphasize the importance of the U.S. in these conflicts, and their goal is to help American readers understand the century-long history of which the murder of the students was the "sanguinary dénouement." While the writing is unpolished, Boullosa and Wallace make a convincing case that the roots of the current crisis stretch back to the aftermath of the Mexican Revolution, and that Americans' seemingly infinite appetite for narcotics, particularly cocaine, allowed south-of-the-border cartels to gain immense wealth and power even as the U.S. declared a "war on drugs" under Ronald Reagan. With plodding prose and a flood of factual detail, the book is neither easy nor particularly enjoyable to read, but it offers a meticulously researched and lucidly organized overview of a topic that is of great significance in contemporary debates in American foreign policy and law enforcement. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/27/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
MP3 CD - 978-1-5226-9140-2
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