Killing Pablo, Toby Gregory

Review by Jack Foley

The author, Mark Bowden, needs no introduction. As the man who wrote Black Hawk Down, his choice of subject to investigate is unusual. However, deciding to chart the astonishing rise to power of the world's billionaire godfather of international drug trafficking and his ultimate death took more than a pen and paper.

Pablo Escobar was an elected member of Columbia's parliament, a Robin Hood type figure to the poor who helped build schools, hospitals and houses. Yet he chose to take the dark road into the drugs world that soon made him one of the richest and most wanted men in the criminal world. Several of his operations are graphically revealed, including the assassination of presidential candidates, Supreme judges and the destruction of an airliner.

This thrilling investigative work often reads like a novel. The situations, the politics and the romance - they often cloud the brutal nature of the man and his extremely powerful crime family. Yet one can see why the almost mythical aurora built up around him will eventually consume him. When the Central Intelligence Agency and the DEA joined in the hunt to eliminate him, Pablo's days were effectively numbered.

Killing Pablo draws from intelligence files and highly classified data, including secret surveillance footage and wiretaps. A huge book, that one really does not want to finish.

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