Heavy read on drugs in Colom­bia

Colom­biano By Rusty Young, Pen­guin Ran­dom House, $37

Hamilton News - - BOOKS / LOCAL CLASSIFIEDS - Linda Thompson

You’ll need a strong con­sti­tu­tion to get through this, and not just be­cause it’s a weighty 688 pages.

It’s the story of a place and an in­dus­try which — for­tu­nately — we don’t know too much about here in safe New Zealand. This is the world of Post-pablo Es­co­bar Colom­bia, drug run­ners, mur­ders, kid­nap­pings and con­stant dan­ger.

Au­thor Rusty Young wrote about this life in March­ing Pow­der, a best seller about a drug smug­gler writ­ten from in­side the no­to­ri­ous San Pe­dro prison. An Aus­tralian, he moved to Colom­bia for seven years, four work­ing for the US gov­ern­ment in counter ter­ror­ism.

Through this work he learned about child sol­diers and in­ter­viewed them about their lives of abuse, be­ing forced to fight and com­mit ex­e­cu­tions. Colom­biano is about a 15-year-old boy who joins an il­le­gal para­mil­i­tary group af­ter his fa­ther is ex­e­cuted in front of him. He spi­rals into a world of vi­o­lence and won­ders if he can stop be­fore he be­comes like the men he hunts.

From teenage love and com­ing of age to jun­gle drug labs, co­caine su­per­mar­kets, tor­ture and vi­o­lence. It’s a big read in ev­ery sense of the word. —

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