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Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America's Strangest Jail

by and

Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America's Strangest Jail Cover

ISBN13: 9780312330347
ISBN10: 0312330340
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"This memoir of a British drug dealer's nearly five years inside a Bolivian prison provides a unique window on a bizarre and corrupt world. McFadden, a young black man from Liverpool arrested for smuggling cocaine, finds himself forced to pay for his accommodations in La Paz's San Pedro Prison, the first of many oddities in a place where some inmates keep pets and rich criminals can sustain a lavish lifestyle. The charismatic McFadden soon learns how to survive, and even thrive, in an atmosphere where crooked prison officials turn up at his private cell to snort lines of coke. By chance, he stumbles on an additional source of income when he begins giving tours of the prison to foreign tourists, a trade that leads to the mention in a Lonely Planet guidebook that attracts the attention of his coauthor, Young, who was backpacking in South America at the time. McFadden's unapologetic self-serving story will attract little pity as he freely admits to countless cocaine sales for which he was never held accountable. Once the authors chronicle the novel aspects of life in San Pedro, from which McFadden was released in 2000, the narrative loses momentum. The book would have benefited from some judicious editing and some objective perspective on the veracity of McFadden's story. Agent, Jeff Gerecke at JCA Literary. (May 12)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

An account of life inside one of the strangest and most notorious prisons in the world, San Pedro in Bolivia.

Synopsis:

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.

About the Author

Rusty Young currently lives in Colombia, where he teaches English.

Thomas McFadden was released from San Pedro and now lives in England.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

i8pixistix, February 23, 2007 (view all comments by i8pixistix)
I could not put this book down! I commute 120 miles round trip for work and read the entire time on the bus, sometimes being a tiny bit bummed about reaching my destination because that meant I had to put the book down.

This is a riveting story that fills your body with the highs and lows of the storyteller as he recounts his four plus years in the Bolivian prison, San Pedro. It's a strange place where the inmates are required to purchase their cells, which can be more like apartments, complete with the comforts of home. This is a place and story like no other.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(20 of 33 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780312330347
Author:
Rusty Young and Thomas McFadden
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Author:
McFadden, Thomas
Author:
Young, Rusty
Subject:
General
Subject:
Penology
Subject:
South America
Subject:
South America - General
Subject:
Prisoners
Subject:
Bolivia
Subject:
McFadden, Thomas
Subject:
Young, Rusty
Subject:
TRAVEL / South America
Subject:
Biography - General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20040531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Includes one 16-page bandw photo section
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
8.33 x 5.44 x 1.18 in

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
History and Social Science » Crime » Criminology
History and Social Science » Crime » General
History and Social Science » Crime » Prisons and Prisoners
History and Social Science » Crime » True Crime
Travel » South America » General

Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America's Strangest Jail Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$12.50 In Stock
Product details 400 pages St. Martin's Press - English 9780312330347 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "This memoir of a British drug dealer's nearly five years inside a Bolivian prison provides a unique window on a bizarre and corrupt world. McFadden, a young black man from Liverpool arrested for smuggling cocaine, finds himself forced to pay for his accommodations in La Paz's San Pedro Prison, the first of many oddities in a place where some inmates keep pets and rich criminals can sustain a lavish lifestyle. The charismatic McFadden soon learns how to survive, and even thrive, in an atmosphere where crooked prison officials turn up at his private cell to snort lines of coke. By chance, he stumbles on an additional source of income when he begins giving tours of the prison to foreign tourists, a trade that leads to the mention in a Lonely Planet guidebook that attracts the attention of his coauthor, Young, who was backpacking in South America at the time. McFadden's unapologetic self-serving story will attract little pity as he freely admits to countless cocaine sales for which he was never held accountable. Once the authors chronicle the novel aspects of life in San Pedro, from which McFadden was released in 2000, the narrative loses momentum. The book would have benefited from some judicious editing and some objective perspective on the veracity of McFadden's story. Agent, Jeff Gerecke at JCA Literary. (May 12)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,
An account of life inside one of the strangest and most notorious prisons in the world, San Pedro in Bolivia.

"Synopsis" by ,
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.

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