Has anyone read Don Winslow's border series trilogy? "The Power of the Dog", "The Cartel", and "The Border"? Though the books are fiction they are historically relevant and based off of several real players and incidents in the drug wars. I'd like somewhat of a book club thread to discuss their accuracy and relevance in exposing truth about the drug war--if that is allowed on the forum.
My Mom gave me a copy of The Winter of Frankie Machine in 2008, which I read, and loved. It was a San Diego based criem drama, whihc incorporated local lore into a national drama, with hitmen and gangsters, lovers and sons, and plenty of San Diego locale.
I next read the Power of the Dog, which, though it grossly overreaches, to loop in Paul Castellano and Gotti's rise to fame, and includes an Irish Hells Kitchen gangster, who falls in love with a cartel kingpins scorned wife, or something like that, -is an actual faithful retelling of the Arellano Felix's rise to power, and dismantling.
The overreaches are worse in retrospect than they ever were when I read them when I was 22. Now, they feel hacky and cheap, making me hesitant to even revisit.
Next, he wrote about San Diego sleaze and private detectives, called The Dawn Patrol, which was fun, and basically a noir tale, slightly tongue in cheek, with again, man references to real San Diego crime stories and history.
Then, Savages. By then, he had perfected his rapid fire, free flowing, sarcastic, and sparse delivery, and went all in on this one. I liked it, but it's hackier and features some offensive caricatures, that would seep into the rest of his work. He uses Endeina Arellano Felix and her son, and El Teo, as thinly disguised characters, in a borderline absurd plot, that was made into a movie, that only amplified the books flaws, by Oliver Stone. Bad movie.
The Cartel was in 2015, and features some great, insightful, moving, and never before done fictional narrative stuff about Juarez, and also contains some action movie 1980's nonsense in the conclusion, that was ridiculously bad. I haven't read since 2015, and it may be weaker than I remember. He's a great writer, that had developed bad habits.
The sequel to The Cartel, The Border, was unspeakably awful, and used, as always real life characters, and incidents, to form an increasingly cartoonish and spectacle driven novel. Donald Trump, admin officials are featured in a ludicrous, ludicrous pot boiler, that politics aside, is laughable, beyond belief.
He writes of violence in La Paz and Culiacan with a detachment and action movie aesthetic that grated ate very turn, and I was disgusted and ashamed of the novel.
The best of Winslow, is California Fire And Life, The Winter of Frankie Machine, and probably one of the lesser known ones like The Dawn Patrol, or the prequel to Savages.
The outrage over American Dirt, which Winslow escapes, is interesting, because his books have had many of the offensive tropes that people have taken exception with, mostly The Border.
The border trilogy is good and although the books sound quite artificial at some points Winslow basically made a complete race throguh the whole narco altering names and events but achieving three good books hitting in the right direction. The best one in my opinion is the second part (The Cartel, which resembles dozens of real avents depicting them with different names. In some cases Winslow´s predictions have become true which is quite scary) Of all his books the Winter of Frankie Machine, about the American Cosa Nostra is the best one (at least for me)
He has also written two books about a three local weed dealers in the coast of California and their fight against the Arellano Felix Cartel (although the names of the organization and Enedina Arellano Felix are hidden): Savages and The Kings of Cool (prequel)
I read The Force and The Cartel. The Force was entertaining. The Cartel was a case where the real story is better than the fiction. He is referencing things that have happened using different name and places etc.
Non-fiction books about the cartel and drug wars are way better. Like Zero,zero,zero, Hunting El Chapo, Narcoland, The Cartel, El Narco, Narconomics, The Last Narco are way better.