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Murder city : Ciudad Juárez and the global…

Murder city : Ciudad Juárez and the global economy's new killing fields

by Charles Bowden, Julián Cardona

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185563,896 (3.37)47
  1. 00
    Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico's Drug Wars by Sylvia Longmire (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: I read Cartel shortly after reading Murder City, and found that it provided a helpful introduction to the Mexican drug wars.

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» See also 47 mentions

Showing 5 of 5
I found this book extremely frustrating. Bowden did some terrific investigative reporting and when he lets the people he met talk for themselves, the book is fascinating, terrifying and moving. But when he goes on and on about his own anger and frustration, it just sounds self-righteous and his writing deteriorates. Not that I doubt his rage is genuine, it's just that his style becomes florid and overly melodramatic. The situation is dramatic as it is. No need to hit your readers over the head with the obvious.

Another problem is that Bowden repeats himself over and over. Perhaps the book started as a collection of separate articles so Bowden has to repeat parts of the stories to bring readers up to speed. But in the book, where you just read the same thing a few pages earlier, it is annoying. One wonders where the editors are these days.

Finallly Bowden hits us over the head with his argument that Ciudad Juarez is the future for all of us in a globalized capitalist world. He constantly repeats that all other explanations for the situation are just not the truth, but he doesn't provide any evidence for his argument beyond his own rage. The fact is everything he tells us indicates that all the explanations are not false, but partial truths that together create the horrifying situation in Mexico.

Despite my criticism this book is definitely worth reading to get new insights into what is happening south of the Rio Grande. Just skim through Bowden's pontificating and listen to the Mexicans speak for themselves. ( )
  aront | Jul 25, 2017 |
This book is a disaster that ill-serves the disaster it is trying to describe. It is repetitive, self-indulgent and full of absolutely useless personal reflection that effectively sabotages any attempt by the reader to focus on the situation Bowden pointlessly castigates you for being incapable of understanding. It contains only one element that redeems it: his interview with the hitman. In this man's description of his life there is true insight to be gained into the ultimate and terrifying consequences of the system-wide FAIL that is the US-Mexico relationship. ( )
  CSRodgers | May 3, 2014 |
There is interesting and valuable material here, so I give the book a qualified recommendation, but in truth it is something of a botched job. Charles Bowden's courage and dogged pursuit of the facts are not in question, but are undermined by his writerly ambitions to be a new Tom Wolfe or Hunter S. Thompson, a star of "creative non-fiction." "Murder City" is at its worst when you catch Bowden "writing," and unfortunately, it happens a lot. He gets very repetitive and starts to write in circles, making points he made 50 pages back. He rejects sociology in favor of absurdity - the deaths in Juarez can't be explained, he explains, except as expressions of a crazy new global reality - but, if that is all he really wants to say, he scarcely needed so many pages to do so. He uses devices, like the repeated references to the travails of "Miss Sinaloa," that simply do not work and should have been dealt with mercilessly by his editor. Somewhere inside "Murder City," there is a good book trying to emerge, but this is a pretty clear example of an author getting in his own way, perhaps because his self-estimation is too high - Bowden constantly rams home the idea that he "gets it" but no one else does, and inadvertently becomes an unattractive character in his own narrative. You don't feel his painful grappling with painful truths - if you did, the book's faults wouldn't matter much - you feel his sense of superiority. ( )
2 vote PatrickMurtha | Jul 16, 2012 |
A firsthandish account of all the killings going on on the US/Mexico border in Texas because of the drug cartels. ( )
  br77rino | Apr 5, 2012 |
In hypnotic prose that is both poetic and intentionally somewhat repetitive, Bowden takes the reader inside the horror of Ciudad Juárez, just across the border from El Paso, where the number of murders reached 1607 in 2008 and topped 2400 in 2009, making it the most murderous city in the world. The structure of the book takes a little figuring out, but it is essentially a spiral in which Bowden revisits topics and themes as the violence of 2008 expands throughout the year, as well as following several people whose stories unfold as the book progresses: a provincial beauty queen destroyed by gang rape by police, a former criminal/addict who runs a home in the desert for people made crazy by the violence, a reporter fleeing for the border with his son because he once wrote the wrong story for the newspaper, and -- most chillingly -- a professional killer. Throughout, Bowden illustrates with great compassion both why people turn to working for the drug cartels and why they turn the other way when people are killed in front of them. He makes the case that the situation in Ciudad Juárez is the result of the war for drugs, not the war against them or a war between rival drug cartels, that the killers include the army and the police, as well as people working for cartels, and that the corruption that enables the drug business is alive and well on both sides of the border.

When I say "makes the case," I do not mean to suggest that Murder City is either a logically analyzed or journalistically orderly book, although the author expressed logical journalistic ideas when I heard him interviewed on NPR. Instead, it is a rigorous but deeply emotional and personal journey into what really could be called the heart of darkness.
6 vote rebeccanyc | May 8, 2010 |
Showing 5 of 5
Bowden writes about the incomprehensible levels of killing in Juárez with an austere lyricism, and has been called “a blood and guts journalist with a poet’s sensibility.”

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Charles Bowdenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cardona, Juliánmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Ciudad Juarez lies just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. A once-thriving border town, it now resembles a failed state. Infamously known as the place where women disappear, its murder rate exceeds that of Baghdad. Last year 1,607 people were killed, a number that is on pace to increase in 2009. In Murder City, Charles Bowden, one of the few journalists who has spent extended periods of time in Juarez, has written an extraordinary account of what happens when a city disintegrates. Interweaving stories of its inhabitants, a raped beauty queen, a repentant hitman, a journalist fleeing for his life with a broader meditation on the town's descent into anarchy, Bowden reveals how Juarez's culture of violence will not only worsen, but inevitably spread north.… (more)

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