cover image Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathers

Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathers

Anabel Hernández, trans. from the Spanish by Iain Bruce. Verso (Norton, dist.), $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-78168-073-5

First published in Mexico as Los señores del narco in 2010, this dry translation brings Mexican investigative journalist Hernández’s exposé about drug trafficking in Mexico to an English-speaking audience. Five years in the making, it’s an in-depth, unforgiving look at the deep-rooted corruption that has allowed the cartels to flourish; they now influence and control vast swaths of the country. Numerous anecdotes and interviews flesh out a decades-long narrative, touching on everything from CIA and DEA involvement, to how the drug lords run their empires from prison, to the way these powerful men live and die. It’s a scathing, sobering report, as Hernández lays the blame not just on the drug cartels, but on “all those who exercise everyday power from behind a false halo of legality” to make their “law of ‘silver or lead’ ” a reality. While appendices containing glossaries of acronyms and short bios do much to reduce reader confusion, there’s still an immense and exhausting amount of information to absorb. Those willing to slog through the dense bits will find a thought-provoking portrait of the crime and corruption that dominates our southerly neighbor. (Sept.)