Synopses & Reviews
An investigative tour de force from award-winning author Charles Bowden plumbs as never before the desperation of drug culture in a work hailed by critics as one of the best books of 2002.
An extraordinary new book of investigative reporting seven years in the making, Down by the River chronicles the bewildering and brutal events surrounding a still-unsolved 1995 murder in El Paso, Texas. The alleged killer was inexplicably arrested, convicted, and sentenced to twenty years in prison. He was thirteen years old. This murder forms the core of a panoramic investigation into the huge, illicit narcotics trade. Charles Bowden's narrative inhabits a world devoid of law and security, where the U.S. and Mexican governments are indistinguishable and poisoned with corruption and conflict, and where the only sure thing is death. In this world, we are denied the tidy resolutions of fiction.
Bowden's work, brave and unflinching, is a uniquely penetrating portrait of the war on drugs and of those all-too-human players who wage it.
"Bowden's hard-boiled prose and the generally violent tone are reminiscent of Hunter Thompson and James Ellroy, but this authors gaze remains trained upon fundamental human issues....Memorable and remarkable, as true-edged and dangerous as a brand-new stiletto." Kirkus Reviews
"[An] extraordinary book....You finish Down by the River knowing enough about the illegal drug business and the war against it to understand you don't know a thing about the illegal drug business and the war against it. That is literature as public service....This isn't your typical airport-paperback true-crime yarn." Chicago Tribune
"Charles Bowden is a serious writer with a reputation for thoughtful narrative and a devoted following that on the basis of this book deserves to grow much larger....It is a mature, deeply felt exploration of the hidden connections binding two very different parts of North America, as well as of the ties that bind a family. The narrative is masterly." New York Times
"Bowden's writing...often crackles with poetic brilliance....Down By the River should be tossed through the window of every government official in Washington." Denver Post
"Bowden calls himself a reporter, and in a pure sense of the word he really is one. He is also an authentic talent." New York Times Book Review
"Full of sick ironies, stranger-than-fiction anecdotes, and beautifully bare-knuckle prose, Down by the River is a tragic account of corruption and collusion writ large." Entertainment Weekly
"Brutal and brilliantly reported...remarkably vivid...captures the way greed, ethnicity, and an old-school emphasis on honor interact to create a world in which violence is the only constant." New Yorker
Lionel Bruno Jordan was murdered on January 20, 1995, in an El Paso parking lot, but he keeps coming back as the key to a multibillion-dollar drug industry, two corrupt governments one called the United States and the other Mexico and a self-styled War on Drugs that is a fraud. Beneath all the policy statements and bluster of politicians is a real world of lies, pain, and big money.
Down by the River is the true narrative of how a murder led one American family into this world and how it all but destroyed them. It is the story of how one Mexican drug leader outfought and outthought the U.S. government, of how major financial institutions were fattened on the drug industry, and how the governments of the U.S. and Mexico buried everything that happened. All this happens down by the river, where the public fictions finally end and the facts read like fiction. This is a remarkable American story about drugs, money, murder, and family.
About the Author
Journalist Charles Bowden has written eleven previous nonfiction books, including Blood Orchid, Trust Me, Desierto, The Sonoran Desert, Frog Mountain Blues, and Killing the Hidden Waters. Winner of the 1996 Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction, he lives in Tucson, Arizona.
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