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.
I picked this book to read whilst on holidays, and was hoping to have a book to get lost in - Marching Powder did not disappoint. The writing style was very easy to read and transported you into the world of the prison, as such the book was very hard to put down. The fact that it is a true life story, also makes it all the more thrilling and shocking in parts. I personally enjoy books where the chapters are not too long, so if you only have a short transit time to read, you can get through a chapter or two and leave it at a good spot - this books chapters are also a perfect length in my opinion. Highly recommended read.
this book is so intriguing, it is a very easy book to read, and is very hard to put down. The story just gets you all wrapped up in it, and it is a true life story. After reading this book while in south america, I went to Bolivia, and entered the prison, it is much harder these days, it was amazing to recognise things in the prison from the book.
I recommend this book to everyone i meet!
This was an absolutely intriguing read - I couldn't put the book down! The stories told about the prison / legal system in Bolivia were unbelievable & you just couldn't imagine what it would be like to be in that situation. There was one part of the book that was so gruesome that I felt physically sick, but the rest of the book was really interesting...
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