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A stunning investigation of the life and legend of Mexican kingpin Joaquín Archivaldo “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, building on Noah Hurowitz’s revelatory coverage for Rolling Stone of El Chapo’s federal drug-trafficking trial. This is the true story of how El Chapo built the world’s wealthiest and most powerful drug-trafficking operation, based on months’ worth of trial testimo A stunning investigation of the life and legend of Mexican kingpin Joaquín Archivaldo “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, building on Noah Hurowitz’s revelatory coverage for Rolling Stone of El Chapo’s federal drug-trafficking trial. This is the true story of how El Chapo built the world’s wealthiest and most powerful drug-trafficking operation, based on months’ worth of trial testimony and dozens of interviews with cartel gunmen, Mexican journalists and political figures, Chapo’s family members, and the DEA agents who brought him down. Over the course of three decades, El Chapo was responsible for smuggling hundreds of tons of cocaine, marijuana, heroin, meth, and fentanyl around the world, becoming in the process the most celebrated and reviled drug lord since Pablo Escobar. El Chapo waged ruthless wars against his rivals and former allies, plunging vast areas of Mexico into unprecedented levels of violence, even as many in his home state of Sinaloa continued to view him as a hero. This unputdownable book, written by a great new talent, brings El Chapo’s exploits into a focus that previous profiles have failed to capture. Hurowitz digs in deep beyond the legends and delves into El Chapo’s life and legacy—not just the hunt for him, revealing some of the most dramatic and often horrifying moments of his notorious career, including the infamous prison escapes, brutal murders, multi-million-dollar government payoffs, and the paranoia and narcissism that led to his downfall. From the evolution of organized crime in Mexico to the militarization of the drug war to the devastation wrought on both sides of the border by the introduction of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, this book is a gripping and comprehensive work of investigative, on-the-ground reporting.


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A stunning investigation of the life and legend of Mexican kingpin Joaquín Archivaldo “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, building on Noah Hurowitz’s revelatory coverage for Rolling Stone of El Chapo’s federal drug-trafficking trial. This is the true story of how El Chapo built the world’s wealthiest and most powerful drug-trafficking operation, based on months’ worth of trial testimo A stunning investigation of the life and legend of Mexican kingpin Joaquín Archivaldo “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, building on Noah Hurowitz’s revelatory coverage for Rolling Stone of El Chapo’s federal drug-trafficking trial. This is the true story of how El Chapo built the world’s wealthiest and most powerful drug-trafficking operation, based on months’ worth of trial testimony and dozens of interviews with cartel gunmen, Mexican journalists and political figures, Chapo’s family members, and the DEA agents who brought him down. Over the course of three decades, El Chapo was responsible for smuggling hundreds of tons of cocaine, marijuana, heroin, meth, and fentanyl around the world, becoming in the process the most celebrated and reviled drug lord since Pablo Escobar. El Chapo waged ruthless wars against his rivals and former allies, plunging vast areas of Mexico into unprecedented levels of violence, even as many in his home state of Sinaloa continued to view him as a hero. This unputdownable book, written by a great new talent, brings El Chapo’s exploits into a focus that previous profiles have failed to capture. Hurowitz digs in deep beyond the legends and delves into El Chapo’s life and legacy—not just the hunt for him, revealing some of the most dramatic and often horrifying moments of his notorious career, including the infamous prison escapes, brutal murders, multi-million-dollar government payoffs, and the paranoia and narcissism that led to his downfall. From the evolution of organized crime in Mexico to the militarization of the drug war to the devastation wrought on both sides of the border by the introduction of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, this book is a gripping and comprehensive work of investigative, on-the-ground reporting.

57 review for El Chapo: The Untold Story of the World's Most Infamous Drug Lord

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stella

    This is the book for anyone eager to look beyond sensational portrayals of El Chapo and understand what his true role was in the drug war. I found that the author skillfully constructs the universe in which the drug trade takes place, balancing all pieces: from geopolitical agendas, US-Mexico trade relations, and DEA and other agencies’ interests, to the reality on the ground in Mexico, he leaves no stone unturned. The book works at all scales, with every incident or personal anecdote inserted i This is the book for anyone eager to look beyond sensational portrayals of El Chapo and understand what his true role was in the drug war. I found that the author skillfully constructs the universe in which the drug trade takes place, balancing all pieces: from geopolitical agendas, US-Mexico trade relations, and DEA and other agencies’ interests, to the reality on the ground in Mexico, he leaves no stone unturned. The book works at all scales, with every incident or personal anecdote inserted in a larger sociopolitical context. It manages to seamlessly connect harrowing testimonies of civilians affected by the violence of the drug war to a profound analysis about who ultimately profits from this war. Thoroughly researched and extremely thoughtful, this book unpacks for you every insidious aspect of the war on drugs. I highly recommend it!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ula Tardigrade

    El Chapo is the most famous of the modern narco traffickers and his story is fascinating but this book was a little disappointing for me. As I am interested in the topic of the war on drugs and current affairs in Mexico, I was too familiar with described events (contrary to the subtitle) - I read all about it in many other books, like the fascinating El Narco: Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency by Ioan Grillo and in Don Winslow novels, which are fiction but are based on facts. Moreover I wasn’t El Chapo is the most famous of the modern narco traffickers and his story is fascinating but this book was a little disappointing for me. As I am interested in the topic of the war on drugs and current affairs in Mexico, I was too familiar with described events (contrary to the subtitle) - I read all about it in many other books, like the fascinating El Narco: Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency by Ioan Grillo and in Don Winslow novels, which are fiction but are based on facts. Moreover I wasn’t convinced by the author’s style. I recommend it to the readers who are new to this topic, for them it will be a more interesting read, I suppose. Thanks to the publisher, AtriaBooks, and NetGalley for the advance copy of this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Martha Pskowski

    This book might at first seem like a biography of El Chapo. But it’s more than that, depicting the drug trade in Mexico at its most pivotal moments. We get glimpses of Chapo the man, but it’s really about the world he inhabits. There are plenty of exciting scenes and wild anecdotes but ultimately the author argues that interpersonal drama obscures the true story of the drug war. The book will hopefully convince readers to think more deeply about the drug trade and the complicity of the U.S. and This book might at first seem like a biography of El Chapo. But it’s more than that, depicting the drug trade in Mexico at its most pivotal moments. We get glimpses of Chapo the man, but it’s really about the world he inhabits. There are plenty of exciting scenes and wild anecdotes but ultimately the author argues that interpersonal drama obscures the true story of the drug war. The book will hopefully convince readers to think more deeply about the drug trade and the complicity of the U.S. and Mexican governments.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Eric Mayhew

    From the epilogue: “The best way of understanding the drug trade is this: it is a capitalist enterprise in Mexico, and as such it has always had a corrupt and fuzzy relationship with the state — and has always been subject to the coercive demands and fickle priorities of U.S.foreign policy. Prohibition increases the risks, frequency of violence, and the profit margins, but does not inherently separate the drug trade from the state.”

  5. 4 out of 5

    William French

    The endnotes move this book from 4 to 5 stars. They contain links to support the text. There may be better books about El Chapo, but this one places him in a comprehensive history of narcotrafficking in Mexico. The relationship of the cartels to the Mexican government and its law enforcement reminds me of the Whitey Bulger case. Bulger, one of the rottenest criminals of all time, collaborated very closely with the FBI.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Randal White

    A good, thorough covering of the El Chapo saga. I didn't learn much new, as it seems that this has all been covered, over and over, before. Well written, in any case. Did cover the period after El Chapo was sentenced in the U.S., and how the drug trafficking and violence has not subsided at all. A good, thorough covering of the El Chapo saga. I didn't learn much new, as it seems that this has all been covered, over and over, before. Well written, in any case. Did cover the period after El Chapo was sentenced in the U.S., and how the drug trafficking and violence has not subsided at all.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chris Kovacs

    Decent overview of El Chapo and the major events in his story However, after discussing the savagery of these mexical cartels, still comes to the conclusion that it is America fault somehow.

  8. 5 out of 5

    PK

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nico V

  10. 5 out of 5

    James H.

  11. 4 out of 5

    James

  12. 4 out of 5

    Devon Leichtman

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  14. 4 out of 5

    N Levine

  15. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Hårstad Fonn

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kristal Kraft

  17. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Grant

  18. 5 out of 5

    Spencer Anderson

  19. 5 out of 5

    Matt

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  21. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

  22. 5 out of 5

    Paco

  23. 5 out of 5

    Josh Stern

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Meintzer

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dave Yarnold

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tim

  28. 4 out of 5

    candido o silva

  29. 4 out of 5

    Leo

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

  31. 5 out of 5

    KATINA BURDEN

  32. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

  33. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  34. 4 out of 5

    Nevona Friedman

  35. 4 out of 5

    Justin

  36. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

  37. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Lilly

  38. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  39. 5 out of 5

    Williams

  40. 4 out of 5

    Richard

  41. 5 out of 5

    Leo

  42. 5 out of 5

    Karen Bullock

  43. 5 out of 5

    Deepak Bassi

  44. 4 out of 5

    N

  45. 5 out of 5

    Spencer

  46. 4 out of 5

    Miguel Gutierrez Jr

  47. 4 out of 5

    Elnor Finewood

  48. 4 out of 5

    YE

  49. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  50. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

  51. 4 out of 5

    Michael Kovan

  52. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  53. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany L

  54. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  55. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Chinn

  56. 5 out of 5

    Sasha Jones

  57. 5 out of 5

    Siria

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