To Die in Mexico: Dispatches from Inside the Drug War

To Die in Mexico: Dispatches from Inside the Drug War

by John Gibler
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To Die in Mexico: Dispatches from Inside the Drug War by John Gibler

Mexico is in a state of siege. Since President Felipe Calderon declared a war on drugs in December 2006, more than 38,000 Mexican have been murdered. During the same period, drug money has infused over $130 billion into Mexico's economy, now the country's single largest source of income. Corruption and graft infiltrate all levels of government. Entire towns have become ungovernable, and of every 100 people killed, Mexican police now only investigate approximately 5 eases.

But the market is booming: In 2009, more people in the United States bought recreational drugs than ever before. In 2009, the United Nations reported that some $350 billion in drug money had been successfully laundered into the global banking system the prior year, saving it from collapse.

How does an "extra" $350 billion in the global economy affect the murder rate in Mexico? To get the story and connect the dogs, acclaimed journalist John Gibler travels across Mexico and slips behind the frontlines to talk with people who live in towns under assault: newspaper reporters and crime-beat photographers, funeral parlor workers, convicted drug traffickers, government officials, cab drivers and others who find themselves living on the lawless frontiers of the drug war. Gibler tells hair-raising stories of wild street battles, kidnappings, narrow escapes, politicians on the take, and the ordinary people who fight for justice as they seek solutions to the crisis that is tearing Mexico apart. Fast-paced and urgent, To Die in Mexico is an extraordinary look inside the raging drug war, and its global implications.

John Gibler is a writer based in Mexico and California, the author of Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt (City Lights Books, 2009), and a contributor to País de muertos: Crónicas contra la impunidad (Random House Mondadori, 2011). He is a correspondent for KPFA in San Francisco and has published in magazines in the United States and Mexico, including Left Turn , Z Magazine , Earth Island Journal , ColorLines , Race, Poverty, and the Environment Fifth Estate , New Politics , In These Times , Yes! Magazine , Contralínea , and Milenio Semanal .

"Gibler's front-line reportage coupled with first-rate analysis gives an uncommonly vivid and nuanced picture of a society riddled and enervated by corruption, shootouts, and raids, where murder is the 'most popular method of conflict resolution.' . . . At great personal risk, the author unearths stories the mainstream media doesn't–or is it too afraid–to cover, and gives voice to those who have been silenced or whose stories have been forgotten." — Publishers Weekly , starred review

"Gibler argues passionately to undercut this 'case study in failure.' The drug barons are only getting richer, the murders mount and the police and military repression expand as 'illegality increases the value of the commodity.' With legality, both U.S. and Mexican society could address real issues of substance abuse through education and public-health initiatives. A visceral, immediate and reasonable argument." — Kirkus Reviews

"Gibler provides a fascinating and detailed insight into the history of both drug use in the US and the 'war on drugs' unleashed by Ronald Reagan through the very plausible – but radical – lens of social control. . . . Throughout this short but powerful book, Gibler accompanies journalists riding the grim carousel of death on Mexico's streets, exploring the realities of a profession under siege in states such as Sinaloa and just how they cover the drugs war." —Gavin O’Toole, The Latin American Review of Books

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780872865174
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publication date: 06/28/2011
Series: City Lights Open Media Series
Pages: 200
Product dimensions: 4.86(w) x 6.98(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

John Gibler weaves narrative journalism with lyrical descriptions, combining the journalist's trade of walking the streets and the philosopher's task of drawing out the tremendous implications of the seemingly mundane. Gibler has been living and writing from Mexico since 2006. He has reported for Left Turn, In These Times, Common Dreams, Yes! Magazine, Colorlines, and ZNet, and has been featured on NPR's All Things Considered, CNN, and Democracy Now!

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To Die in Mexico: Dispatches from Inside the Drug War 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Erin93 More than 1 year ago
John Gibler’s To Die in Mexico: Dispatches From Inside the Drug War reflects the division of the Mexican nation, in which the majority of Mexican people is fighting for more welfare, equality, and respect against the ruling elite. Gibler highlights the difference between the War on Drugs and the drug war. The War on Drugs is the spectacle—designed to show that the Mexican government is confronting what is considered the “menace to society” that the drug trafficking organizations represent. The drug war is something else entirely; it is what is really going on. It is personified by thousands of murders, the ability of cartel killers to work during daylight hours in cities full of law enforcement and never get arrested, and the unending flow of drugs and cash. The drug war illustrates the obvious conspiracy between security and different cartels, all within the context of a nation unable to provide safety for its citizens. I tend to agree with Gibler’s thesis that the Mexican government is not promoting “the good,”—that which looks out for the good of all within the polis—but instead is demoting it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book, an exciting read, the beginning of the book really gets your interest. Three carefree college students on spring break driving through Mexico, through an idylic and beautiful country side, but in your mind you know it isn't going to last, so you read on. You have no idea how explosive this story is going to get. I highly recommend reading this book by a highly talented author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Clearly written by a journalist, this book is an easy read that makes many points through bold examples that are undoubtably true. I bought this for perspective in a history class looking at the drug war in Mexico. The author does not give sources for his statistics which keeps me wondering how current or accurate his numbers are. But like I said, it is a fast and exciting read. If you're looking for a book that will rile your emotions about the violence in Mexico, and give a center/left view of the sources of these events, then this is the book for you. If you're center/right or jingoistic, this book will keep you shaking your head.
DrugWarAnalyst More than 1 year ago
Some great narratives and Gibler's a good writer. However, there are several factual errors interspersed throughout the book, and Gibler's aggressive political invectives are a turn-off for someone just wanted to learn more about the drug war from the ground level.