Secrets of dBase

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In October 1993, Mauja Pachn and Beatriz Villamizar, the wife and sister of a prominent Colombian politician, were taken hostage by Pablo Escobar, the billionaire don of the Medelln cocaine cartel. The story of their captivity, and of the negotiations that led to their release, is also the story of a legal crisis that turned into a terrorist civil war and, in the last decade, left thousands dead, from the children of Medelln's slums (where people prayed to effigies of Escobar) to soccer stars and presidential candidates. The heart of the struggle, played out daily in Colombia's Supreme Court and the National Assembly, in newspapers, on TV and in the streets: terms of surrender for Escobar and his henchmen, "The Extraditables," whose motto was "Better a grave in Colombia than a cell in the United States." This struggle has been reported to North American readers, notably by Alma Guillermoprieto in her recent collection of New Yorker correspondence, The Heart That Bleeds, but never with such tragic elegance as here, for Nobel laureate Mrquez knows his subjects as friends or acquaintances and at the same time understands them as types, symbols of a national destiny. Their private premonitions, foibles and heroism fascinate him. What emerges from these pages is not just a chronology of the harrowing events of 1993-94, but also a detailed portrait of Colombian society today, in particular of the moneyed intelligentsia (known in Colombia as "the political class") for whom government and the media are still very much a family affair. Nevertheless, Mrquez's calm sympathy reaches beyond these leading families taken prisoner by the war on drugs; he takes a human interest in the foot-soldiers who face certain death in Escobar's serviceand even in Escobar himself, a doomed anti-hero whose "most unsettling and dangerous aspect... was his total inability to distinguish between good and evil." Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this book is its insistence on individual choice between good and evil, pluck and cowardice, at a moment when a lesser writer might see only the drama of a gripping true-crime story, with villains and victims foreordained. 100,000 first printing. (June)
Library Journal
Garca Mrquez, Latin America's Nobel prize-winning novelist, turns his hand for the first time to nonfiction to explain, through one individual's experience, the widespread kidnapping in Colombia. Although focusing on Maruja Pachn's six months in captivity and her prominent husband's efforts to obtain her release, the book is really about the 1990 abduction of ten individuals by drug traffickers hoping to prevent their extradition to the United States. As he does so memorably in his fiction, the author captures the political intricacies and strange, deep involvement of drug dealers in Colombian life, turning what as easily could have been an imagined story into a fascinating exploration of contemporary culture, politics, and drug lords. Highly recommended.Roderic A. Camp, Latin American Ctr., Tulane Univ., New Orleans
School Library Journal
ea. vol: 12p. (Coleccion Palabras Series). (Madrid: Susaeta Ediciones, 1984). series ISBN 84-305-1385-X. $3. PreS-Gr 1 Nine board books that are characterized by simple, clear color illustrations of common animals, objects and words. The selection of items familiar to young children makes this series especially useful for preschoolers.
Kirkus Reviews
In the same straightforward tone with which he relates the fabulous events of his fiction, Colombia's premier novelist presents the chillingly extraordinary events surrounding the 1992 abduction of ten prominent people by the Medellín drug cartel.

For anyone who has doubts about where the real war on drugs is taking place, this is a vivid testimony to what García Márquez calls "the biblical holocaust that has been consuming Colombia for more than twenty years." It is a tale featuring real-life heroes, almost comically absurd events, endless terror, and a satisfyingly dramatic ending. Controlling the events is a man we never meet until the very end—the all-powerful and cunningly elusive Pablo Escobar, the head of the Medellín cartel. Fearing extradition to the US and death at the hands of his competitors more than he fears the Colombian government, he takes the hostages (primarily journalists) as pawns as he negotiates his surrender to the security of a specially prepared Colombian prison. Among the extraordinary men negotiating for the hostages' freedom are Alberto Villamizar, a politician who was himself once an assassination target of Escobar's and whose wife, Maruja, and sister, Beatriz, are both hostages; and the elderly Father García Herreros, known for his daily television homilies and celebrity-studded fundraisers. But at the core of the narrative are the daily terrors and tribulations of the hostages, scattered in groups of two and three in different hiding places under the constant watch of Escobar's young, nihilistic soldiers. Newspaper editor Pacho Santos is chained to his bed at night. Maruja, Beatriz, and the doomed Marina Montoya must share a tiny, dark, airless room with four guards, their trips to the bathroom strictly regulated, their only distraction the television, through which Maruja's daughter, with her own TV show, sends coded messages of support and hope.

García Márquez's consummate rendering of this hostage-taking looms as the symbol of an entire country held hostage to invisible yet violently ever-present drug lords.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555190248
  • Publisher: Sams
  • Publication date: 2/28/1987
  • Pages: 350

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