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Marching powder : a true story of…

Marching powder : a true story of friendship, cocaine and South… (edition 2003)

by Rusty Young

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3121635,693 (3.83)9
Title:Marching powder : a true story of friendship, cocaine and South America's strangest jail
Authors:Rusty Young
Info:Sydney : Pan Macmillan, 2003.
Collections:Your library, Read (under construction), Read 2012
Tags:penology, biography, Latin America

Work details

Marching Powder by Rusty Young

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    Anonymous user: Hotel Kerobokan is an insightful, well written book of craziness in a Bali prison. If you liked Marching Powder, this is even more beserk and a gripping, page turner.

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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
this book was really interesting. i can't believe that a place like this actually exists. i mean i guess i can really. i'm really fascinated by prison issues and latin america, so this book was a good combination. i would be interested to hear about the prison from the perspective of a poor bolivian, rather than from an international drug trafficker with lots of connections, but its really depressing to think of people in poorer sections of san pedro prison who have absolutely no money to buy their cell, food, or anything else you need to survive there. the book was a really easy read and i would recommend it to anyone. ( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
This is a fascinating account of inside the La Paz jail (Bolivia) where the lack of money forces inmates to create their own economy. This incredible system allows prisoners to obtain most creature comforts, just as it creates inequalities, engendering a multi-tiered society with its rich and poor.
McFadden is quick to remind us, however, that this bought quasi-freedom is extremely precarious and prone to the whims of politicians and the guards who will not hesitate to take away privileges and even torture.
Finally, the description of the drug trade and the industry it creates is a sub-theme which is can be quite eye-opening.
McFadden comes across as an intelligent, if misguided, individual; not particularly likable but hopefully smart enough to have reformed his way. ( )
  Cecilturtle | Jan 11, 2015 |
Facinating! ( )
  elizabethwebster | Jun 12, 2014 |
Facinating! ( )
  elizabethwebster | Jun 12, 2014 |
I first heard about this book a couple years ago and was interested straight away. A book set in the San Pedro prison in Bolivia. Full of corruption, crime and drugs.

What I got was full of corruption, crime and drugs. But also a fair bit of boredom and self-pity. No matter how nice he was he was still a convicted drug smuggler and dealer and I can't have any sympathy for him at all. If he'd been innocent I would have felt differently. But he was there because he deserved to be. So for me that really took away from the book. He was trying to sound innocent and garner sympathy but I just didn't buy it.

I wish there had been more on the actual culture in the prison, not just Thomas getting drunk and high. I wanted a hard hitting expose with the facts to back it up, not the whining of a convicted criminal.

This book could have been a lot better. It wasn't bad and once past the really whiny part about 1/3 the way through it moved quicker and was more interesting. But there was a lot left out that could have vastly improved it. ( )
1 vote Shirezu | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rusty Youngprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
McFadden, ThomasAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312330340, Paperback)

Rusty Young was backpacking in South America when he heard about Thomas McFadden, a convicted English drug trafficker who ran tours inside Bolivia's notorious San Pedro prison. Intrigued, the young Australian journalisted went to La Paz and joined one of Thomas's illegal tours. They formed an instant friendship and then became partners in an attempt to record Thomas's experiences in the jail. Rusty bribed the guards to allow him to stay and for the next three months he lived inside the prison, sharing a cell with Thomas and recording one of the strangest and most compelling prison stories of all time. The result is Marching Powder.

This book establishes that San Pedro is not your average prison. Inmates are expected to buy their cells from real estate agents. Others run shops and restaurants. Women and children live with imprisoned family members. It is a place where corrupt politicians and drug lords live in luxury apartments, while the poorest prisoners are subjected to squalor and deprivation. Violence is a constant threat, and sections of San Pedro that echo with the sound of children by day house some of Bolivia's busiest cocaine laboratories by night. In San Pedro, cocaine--"Bolivian marching powder"--makes life bearable. Even the prison cat is addicted.

Yet Marching Powder is also the tale of friendship, a place where horror is countered by humor and cruelty and compassion can inhabit the same cell. This is cutting-edge travel-writing and a fascinating account of infiltration into the South American drug culture.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:34 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

This is the story of Thomas McFadden, a small-time English drug smuggler who was arrested in Bolivia and thrown inside the notorious San Pedro prison. He found himself in a bizarre world, the prison reflecting all that is wrong with South American society. Originally published: London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 2003.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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