“It is a medicine. And it cures pain. All pain. It cures the pain you have in your body and the pain in your heart. You feel like your body is mud. All mud. You feel like you could melt away and disappear. And it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. You are happy. But you are not laughing. This is medicine, you understand?”
― Ioan Grillo, El Narco: The Bloody Rise of Mexican Drug Cartels

Anyone who watches TV and reads newspapers, knows what is going on in Mexico. Ioan Grillos El Narco: The Bloody Rise of Mexican Drug Cartels is one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. I decided to read this book because I generally know what Mexican drug war is all about, yet I didn’t know when it started or why or details on how. El Narco explains it all, book is divided in three parts:  I History, II Anatomy and III Destiny. I think that titles of the chapters describe these three parts very well.

History: Poppies, Hippies, Cartels, Tycoons, Democrats, Warlords.
Anatomy: Traffic, Murder, Culture, Faith Insurgency
Destiny: Prosecution, Expansion, Diversification, Peace

El Narco is well-written, I like how Grillo builds this book on personal experiences of the people he has interviewed and how he tells us all sides of the story: views of ordinary people, different agencies, federal police, army, members of Congress, lawyers, activists, gang members, smugglers and drug addicts.

4/5 stars.

If you want to buy this book or borrow it from the library, you might find it easier under the name: El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency.
Upsetting to read due to fair amount of violence and injustice. And the numbers are horrifying.
Great book if you’d like to learn more about drug wars in Mexico, if you like history and generally enjoy reading nonfiction.
4. El Narco concentrates on stories of the people and because of this it may seem more like a collection of essays than a book.
5. I liked the chronological order and how the parts were built. It seemed logical.

“As tens of thousand of bodies pile up, a strategy of silence won’t make it go away. In Spanish, they call that “using your thumb to block out the sun.”
― Ioan Grillo, El Narco: The Bloody Rise of Mexican Drug Cartels

Buy El Narco: The Bloody Rise of Mexican Drug Cartels by Grillo, Ioan (2013) on Amazon