Law of the Jungle: The Hunt for Colombian Guerrillas, American Hostages, and Buried Treasure [NOOK Book]

Overview

?Truth be told, they were mostly in it for the money?

On February 13, 2003, a plane carrying three American military contractors on a recon patrol crash-landed in the jungle-covered mountains of Colombia. Within minutes, FARC guerrillas swarmed the wreckage and killed the American pilot and a Colombian crew member as they tried to escape. The survivors?Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Thomas Howes?were marched at gunpoint into the rain forest. They would live in constant darkness under the jungle canopy as ...

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Law of the Jungle: The Hunt for Colombian Guerrillas, American Hostages, and Buried Treasure

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Overview

“Truth be told, they were mostly in it for the money”

On February 13, 2003, a plane carrying three American military contractors on a recon patrol crash-landed in the jungle-covered mountains of Colombia. Within minutes, FARC guerrillas swarmed the wreckage and killed the American pilot and a Colombian crew member as they tried to escape. The survivors—Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Thomas Howes—were marched at gunpoint into the rain forest. They would live in constant darkness under the jungle canopy as they faced starvation, fights with fellow hostages, and threats of execution—often with their necks shackled together.

The Colombian government sent 147 soldiers to rescue the Americans. Led by a bold yet corpulent lieutenant, the troops spent weeks subsisting on monkey meat and Amazon rodents as they chased the guerrillas deeper into the jungle. But then a soldier on a bathroom break stuck his machete into the ground and pulled out 20 million pesos, equaling $7,000. Pretty soon, the young, poor, and exhausted troops realized they had stumbled upon a buried rebel cache of $20 million. Within three days, the GIs burned through their newfound fortune, splurging on booze, sex, and flat-screen televisions. And though the money brought pleasure, for many of the soldiers it would end in criminal prosecution or even death by FARC hit men.

Law of the Jungle places the Colombian hostage story in its full context by exploring the inner workings of the FARC, the U.S.-backed war on drugs, and Colombia's efforts to free the rebel-held prisoners. John Otis, a veteran journalist on the Latin American beat, spins an edge-of-your-seat adventure narrative that offers a shocking cautionary tale about the pursuit of fortune in one of the world's most dangerous places.

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Editorial Reviews

Marie Arana
Law of the Jungle is a well-reported, highly informative account of the chase, which was undertaken largely by the Colombian army…The story…is reminiscent of nothing so much as José Eustacio Rivera's jungle novel The Vortex or even Mario Vargas Llosa's The Green House. It is phantasmagorical in the extreme…
—The Washington Post
Boston Globe
“Amazing...Mesmerizing....[John] Otis has assembled a yarn that would make a magical realist blush, complete with outlandish characters, tragicomic twists of fate, and far-flung deeds of derring-do.... Riveting.”
New York Post
“Compelling...Wild.”
Washington Post
“Law of the Jungle is a well-reported, highly informative account of the chase, which was undertaken largely by the Colombian army....[A] thriller-opera of a story....Otis’s story rises beyond ordinary reporting: He manages to condense recent Colombian history into a clear, digestible narrative.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Gripping and funny...[Otis] tells an amazing story in his first book....Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell were finally freed during the summer of 2008, and Otis tells their story in the sort of rich detail you’d expect of an experienced print journalist.”
Booklist
“With its Conradian atmosphere of jungle-induced madness and an immediacy stemmingfrom interviews with many of the participants, this will engage all...”
BookPage
“Has the feel of a John Huston movie, with its mix of tragedy, intrigue, black comedy and, ultimately, heroism....fascinating.
Very Short List
“An impossible-to-put-down read with as many twists and turns as a summer blockbuster.... Otis, a journalist who has worked in Latin America for more than 20 years, skillfully weaves this incredible tale of attempted—and eventually successful—rescue by Colombian soldiers....Fascinating.”
Library Journal
Written as a spine-tingling, true-life adventure story, this is the tale of three American contractors taken hostage in 2003 when their plane went down while they were taking surveillance photos of cocaine laboratories as part of a counternarcotics mission for the Pentagon in Colombia. They were fortunate to survive the plane crash, but their luck turned when Marxist guerrillas found and captured them within hours, ultimately holding them hostage in the Colombian jungle for five unbearably long years. These same guerrillas were dumbfounded when they stumbled upon a hidden stash of $20 million; their days morphed into a mad frenzy involving a bacchanalian atmosphere filled with alcohol and prostitutes. This well-documented tale ends in 2008 with the incredibly risky rescue of the hostages, a scenario that could easily have gone awry. VERDICT A fast-paced, high-octane read by a seasoned reporter (Otis is a contributor to Time) who knows the ins and outs of Colombia, its war lords, and the drug cartel, this will appeal most to those who love real-life adventure stories, as well as those interested in current events and America's war on drugs.—Krista Bush, Sch. Lib. Media Specialist, West Haven Public Schools, CT
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061901522
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/23/2010
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 886,685
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

John Otis has worked as a reporter in Latin America for more than two decades, and served for eight years as South America Bureau Chief for the Houston Chronicle. He now reports from Colombia for Time magazine, GlobalPost, and the BBC/PRI radio program The World, and he lives in Bogotá.

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Table of Contents

1 Air America 1

2 El Gordo 18

3 Into the Wild 34

4 The Great Divide 56

5 God's Little Gift 78

6 Blade Creep 96

7 Three Gringos 121

8 The Lion's Den 140

9 Bonfires 156

10 Community Chest 182

11 The Messenger 200

12 Land of Oz 210

13 Miracle Fishing 223

14 The Round-up 249

15 The Eighth Plague of Valledupar 264

16 Joan of Arc 285

17 The Dirty Thirty 314

18 Fall Guys 331

19 The One Who Got Away 353

20 Sideshow Hugo 377

21 The Masked Avenger 401

22 Neck and Neck 410

23 Eyes On 432

24 The Unthinkable 457

25 Checkmate 482

26 Passports 498

Epilogue: Living to Tell the Tale 509

Acknowledgments 523

Notes 527

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 18, 2012

    Excellent description of the unknown Colombian history

    Very narrative and realistic description of a recent history that the Colombian people and its military has endured on the hands of the criminals and terrorists called FARC.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2012

    You wont want to put it down

    Great real life story of military contractors who are held hostage for years in the harsh columbian jungle after a plane crash. Otis ties together the lives of several people involved in this real life account of greed, social politics, and survival.

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    Posted March 19, 2011

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    Posted April 14, 2011

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    Posted April 4, 2010

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    Posted April 26, 2010

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