The Power of the Dog

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Author: Don Winslow
Publisher: Arrow (2006)
Binding: Paperback, 560 pages

Don Winslow is a very angry, and very clever man, and everything in this book is based on stone fact. From the Black Irish button man with a heart of glass, to the Arch Bishop with a fondness for cigarettes, high class whores and Liberation Theology, to the CIA Colonel who is also a made man, all these people have lived and are still living in the foetid hell that we know as the Americas. This book is impossible to put down, and at the end, you too will pray to god to "save my love from the sword, my sould from the power of the dog."
Set in Mexico, the book tells the story of 2 men's attempts to put an end to the "Mexican Trampoline" by which drugs are bounced from Colombia via Mexico to the USA, in return for CIA and Mafia funded weapons, which bounce back to Colombia and Guatemala, where they are used by quasi legal right wing paramilitaries against Trades Unionists, Lefties and other threats to US national security like nuns and priests.
In the course of this, our heroes discover that they are noe just taking on the narcotraficantes, but the Governments in most Latin American countries, the CIA, the FBI, the White House, and the Vatican. There is, of course, death in unacceptable manners and amounts. Avoid this book if you're squeamish, but read it if you're interested in how the world really works.
I won't spoil the plot, which is insanely gripping, or the characterisation, which is flawless. I won't explain how Mr Winslow somehow makes an elderly, crack addled paedophile into a sympathetic character. Buy this and find out for yourself - and I mean buy it - you'll want to read it again. But I will say one thing. There is a trip through El Salvador in the book. The author describes the coup that knocked over the popular government, the shanty towns where children with huge eyes, skinny bodies and bloated hungry bellies stand in the dirt, the huddles of cardboard shacks around shining tower blocks that exude death squads when the sun goes down, the heads left in children's playgrounds "pour encourager les autres", and I realised, we're looking into our own future. Now in the Americas, if we don't control our futures and realise that we're all of the same blood family, next year in Britain, and the year later, in Europe.
Don Winslow is an angry man. He has a great deal to be angry about.