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  • Losing the War on Drugs – A Praise to Don Winslow

    Some of us felt something close to an existential emptiness after we finished watching The Wire’s finale. It was so rich and stimulating that it seemed almost impossible to find something slightly close to that level of entertainment.

    Don Winslow
    Don Winslow, eyes wide open.
    Photo by Don Barletti via LA TImes

    Some of us felt something close to an existential emptiness after we finished watching The Wire’s finale. It was so rich and stimulating that it seemed almost impossible to find something slightly close to that level of entertainment.

    The Power Of The Dog

    The Power of the Dog
    by Don Winslow
    Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (2005)

    The Cartel

    The Cartel
    by Don Winslow
    Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (2015)

    Lucky for me, a friend knew about the state of depression I would face after finishing the show, and encouraged me to have a copy of The Power of the Dog on hand to ease the anxiety right after the end credits appeared on the screen. Just when I was trying to find the anxiolytics, I remembered that I actually followed my friend´s advice and had the book at home.

    The Power of the Dog, as The Wire, presents a hyper realistic thrilling plot that describes the futility of the War on Drugs initiated by the US government in the early 70s, and the deadly ramifications it caused to this day; focused on the other game arena, Mexico. You could say it portraits the first part of the game, the one taking place before the drugs get to your city, as relevant -and deadlier- as the one happening here. It is now clear that the drug conflict can’t be understood unless you treat the US-Mexico combo as one entity, never mind the borders.

    In The Cartel, Don Winslow picks Arturo Keller’s crusade against the drug cartels left in 2004 and brings it to our days, resulting in a 40-year span two-volume novel that captures the essence and particulars of probably the most deadly and fascinating conflict of modern society since the Second World War. A conflict that impregnates and intoxicates everything around it; politics, economics, press, education and social relations, and which escalated to a whole new level during the Mexican War on Drugs initiated circa 2006, transforming Ciudad Juarez into the free land for barbarism, savagery and brutality that made the headlines.

    Some years ago, I grabbed The Power of the Dog looking for much needed comfort after the emptiness left by The Wire, I found an incredibly exciting and enjoyable novel that helped me to understand the complexity of the drug conflict and the ironies of the Mexico-US relationship over this matter. A few weeks ago, after finishing The Cartel, I felt deeply fortunate that we have people like Don Winslow, who takes the time, patience, art and energy to school us on a conflict that affects our daily lives in almost every level, and to claim the countless lives destroyed by it. All this, through an easy and thrilling prose that makes it almost impossible to put the book aside. Who needs anxiolytics when you have Don Winslow!

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    Javier García del Moral

    Javier García del Moral is a civil engineer, avid reader and dive bars diver. The kind of person who always knows how a moment should sound like. He’s co-founder of The Wild Detectives along with Paco Vique.

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