Vigorous on-the-ground reporting and a big-picture view combine to make this a jarring portrait of clear and present danger.



An eye-opening investigation of the relationship among gun violence and the drug and arms trades, all closely connected.

British journalist Grillo, who has worked the Latin America beat for more than two decades, begins with the trial of “El Chapo” Guzmán, who was extradited to New York to stand trial for running narcotics into the U.S.—$14 billion worth, by prosecutorial claim. Yet, as the author shows, Guzmán was more than a mere drug lord: “He would be seen as a war criminal if it were to be understood as a war.” The weapons that he bought and sold formed a large branch of the “iron river” that flows between the legal and illegal arms trades, a river defended by the National Rifle Association and Second Amendment fundamentalists everywhere even while enriching people like Guzmán. In this lively and incisive report, the author demonstrates that even as guns overrun the U.S., at least there are some checks on crime; most Latin American governments “cannot contain the gun-toting gangsters.” The author, a diligent and courageous investigator, traces the vehemence of some of these gun supporters to a larger anti-government ethos—e.g., biker gangs such as the Mongols are at war with both law enforcement and the Mexican Mafia. Drug runners are not always killers, Grillo notes; looking closely at Baltimore street gangs, he observes that “a small hardcore group is behind most of the bloodshed.” The real bad guys are political operatives and dealers, such as the Reagan administration officials who supplied the Salvadoran army with more than 260,000 hand grenades that now turn up in turf wars, 300 thrown in a single 2010 intergang battle in Mexico alone. Legalizing some drugs and tightening controls on gun sales, notes the author, will lessen the violence but won’t contain it all: “Claiming we can abolish the entire drug trade through enforcement is an unhelpful fantasy.”

Vigorous on-the-ground reporting and a big-picture view combine to make this a jarring portrait of clear and present danger.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63557-278-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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"There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that." This is Perry Edward Smith, talking about himself. "Deal me out, baby...I'm a normal." This is Richard Eugene Hickock, talking about himself. They're as sick a pair as Leopold and Loeb and together they killed a mother, a father, a pretty 17-year-old and her brother, none of whom they'd seen before, in cold blood. A couple of days before they had bought a 100 foot rope to garrote them—enough for ten people if necessary. This small pogrom took place in Holcomb, Kansas, a lonesome town on a flat, limitless landscape: a depot, a store, a cafe, two filling stations, 270 inhabitants. The natives refer to it as "out there." It occurred in 1959 and Capote has spent five years, almost all of the time which has since elapsed, in following up this crime which made no sense, had no motive, left few clues—just a footprint and a remembered conversation. Capote's alternating dossier Shifts from the victims, the Clutter family, to the boy who had loved Nancy Clutter, and her best friend, to the neighbors, and to the recently paroled perpetrators: Perry, with a stunted child's legs and a changeling's face, and Dick, who had one squinting eye but a "smile that works." They had been cellmates at the Kansas State Penitentiary where another prisoner had told them about the Clutters—he'd hired out once on Mr. Clutter's farm and thought that Mr. Clutter was perhaps rich. And this is the lead which finally broke the case after Perry and Dick had drifted down to Mexico, back to the midwest, been seen in Kansas City, and were finally picked up in Las Vegas. The last, even more terrible chapters, deal with their confessions, the law man who wanted to see them hanged, back to back, the trial begun in 1960, the post-ponements of the execution, and finally the walk to "The Corner" and Perry's soft-spoken words—"It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize." It's a magnificent job—this American tragedy—with the incomparable Capote touches throughout. There may never have been a perfect crime, but if there ever has been a perfect reconstruction of one, surely this must be it.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1965

ISBN: 0375507906

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1965

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A cleareyed, concise look at current and future affairs offering pertinent points to reflect and debate.

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The CNN host and bestselling author delivers a pithy roundup of some of the inevitable global changes that will follow the current pandemic.

Examining issues both obvious and subtler, Zakaria sets out how and why the world has changed forever. The speed with which the Covid-19 virus spread around the world was shocking, and the fallout has been staggering. In fact, writes the author, “it may well turn out that this viral speck will cause the greatest economic, political, and social damage to humankind since World War II.” The U.S., in particular, was exposed as woefully unprepared, as government leadership failed to deliver a clear, practical message, and the nation’s vaunted medical institutions were caught flat-footed: "Before the pandemic…Americans might have taken solace in the country’s great research facilities or the huge amounts of money spent on health care, while forgetting about the waste, complexity and deeply unequal access that mark it as well." While American leaders wasted months denying the seriousness of Covid-19 and ignoring the advice of medical experts, other countries—e.g., South Korea, New Zealand, and Taiwan—acted swiftly and decisively, underscoring one of the author's main themes and second lesson: "What matters is not the quantity of government but the quality.” Discussing how “markets are not enough,” the author astutely shoots down the myth that throwing money at the problem can fix the situation; as such, he predicts a swing toward more socialist-friendly policies. Zakaria also delves into the significance of the digital economy, the resilience of cities (see the success of Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taipei in suppressing the virus), the deepening of economic inequality around the world, how the pandemic has exacerbated the rift between China and the U.S. (and will continue to do so), and why “people should listen to the experts—and experts should listen to the people."

A cleareyed, concise look at current and future affairs offering pertinent points to reflect and debate.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-393-54213-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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