cover image El Chapo: The Untold Story of the World’s Most Infamous Drug Lord

El Chapo: The Untold Story of the World’s Most Infamous Drug Lord

Noah Hurowitz. Atria, $30 (288p) ISBN 978-1-9821-3375-7

Rolling Stone journalist Hurowitz debuts with a granular yet familiar account of the rise and fall of Sinaloa cartel boss El Chapo. Born Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera in La Tuna, Mexico, in 1957, El Chapo (“Shorty”) was first arrested in 1993, after a botched assassination attempt by a rival cartel instead killed a popular Roman Catholic cardinal. Extensive bribery of prison officials enabled El Chapo to continue his trafficking from behind bars. He escaped in 2001, and, after being rearrested on new charges in 2014, escaped again, before being apprehended and extradited to the U.S. in 2016. (He’s now serving a life sentence at a Colorado prison.) Hurowitz fleshes out the harrowing details of Mexico’s drug violence and high-level corruption, and draws on interviews with former cartel insiders to document El Chapo’s staggering ambitions and deep-seated paranoia—at one point, he explored installing spyware on every public computer in a city of 800,000 people. Unfortunately, the catalog of slaughter, which includes pages listing the names of El Chapo’s victims, is more numbing than illuminating. Though Hurowitz’s access to players on both sides of the drug war impresses, readers hoping for a deep dive into the political and social circumstances that enabled El Chapo to evade justice for so long will be disappointed. Agent: Richard Abate, 3 Arts. (July)