Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America's Strangest Jail

Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America's Strangest Jail

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by Thomas McFadden
     
 

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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 journalist 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

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Overview

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 journalist 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This memoir of a British drug dealer's nearly five years inside a Bolivian prison provides a unique window on a bizarre and corrupt world. McFadden, a young black man from Liverpool arrested for smuggling cocaine, finds himself forced to pay for his accommodations in La Paz's San Pedro Prison, the first of many oddities in a place where some inmates keep pets and rich criminals can sustain a lavish lifestyle. The charismatic McFadden soon learns how to survive, and even thrive, in an atmosphere where crooked prison officials turn up at his private cell to snort lines of coke. By chance, he stumbles on an additional source of income when he begins giving tours of the prison to foreign tourists, a trade that leads to the mention in a Lonely Planet guidebook that attracts the attention of his coauthor, Young, who was backpacking in South America at the time. McFadden's unapologetic self-serving story will attract little pity as he freely admits to countless cocaine sales for which he was never held accountable. Once the authors chronicle the novel aspects of life in San Pedro, from which McFadden was released in 2000, the narrative loses momentum. The book would have benefited from some judicious editing and some objective perspective on the veracity of McFadden's story. Agent, Jeff Gerecke at JCA Literary. (May 12) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466817326
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
05/01/2004
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Rusty Young currently lives in Colombia, where he teaches English.

Thomas McFadden was released from San Pedro and now lives in England.


Thomas McFadden is the co-author of Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America's Strangest Jail. He was released from San Pedro and now lives in England.
Rusty Young currently lives in Colombia, where he teaches English. He is co-author with Thomas McFadden of the book Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America's Strangest Jail.

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Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America's Strangest Jail 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
jamieleeJC More than 1 year ago
This is the story of one of the most unique jails there are, one where you need to buy your cells, children roam the street and whole families survive inside. If you have EVER been interested in the jail system this is a book for you. The author commands your attention and it is really a book that I couldn't put down until it was finished!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author gives a first hand account of being set up and locked up abroad. The author is clearly very intelligent per his highly descriptive narration. He keeps the readers interest from the first page to the last. Very interesting take on another prison system. I like the idea that if you commit a crime and sent to prison the prisoner has to pay for everything him or herself. Should implement some of the ways here in our systems. Maybe dopes would think twice before committing a crime.... I was sorry the story ended but very happy for the author. I do indeed hope for the best for the author and pray hes found a way to tow the line.