Cocaína: A Book on Those Who Make It
When Colombia’s ‘King of Cocaine’, Pablo Escobar, was killed, the world thought the cocaine industry would crumble. But ten years later the country’s production had almost quadrupled, and for the last decade Colombia has produced more than 60 per cent of all the cocaine consumed in the world.
The drug is both a curse and a salvation for Colombians. Farmers grow coca for cash but fear discovery. Families must co-operate with drug-funded guerrillas or go on the run. Destitute teens become trained killers for a quick buck, in a ruthless underworld where few survive for long.
At the same time, tension grows between Colombia’s right-wing government and its socialist neighbours in Latin America. With the failed US war on drugs playing into this geopolitical brew, the future of cocaine is about more than what happens to street dealers and their customers.
Based on three years of research, and more than 100 interviews with growers, traffickers, assassins, refugees, police, politicians, and drug tourists, Cocaína is exceptional — a brilliant work of journalism, and an insight into one of the world’s most troubling industries.
MEDIA ABOUT THE BOOK:
”Narcotourism has joined narcoterrorism in the lexicon: Medellin is now the Amsterdam of nose candy and full of backpackers out for cheap coke and vicarious gangster thrills … Linton is at his best when he is on the ground observing the look and feel of life in the country.” Sydney Morning Herald
‘The fascinating biography of a country famous for all the wrong reasons – Colombia.” Manly Daily
”In spare, sharp prose, Linton weaves his narrative threads into keen political and historical analysis— investigative journalism at its finest … he never falls into the trap of making this a story about sensational individuals, instead keeping his eye fixed on social structure and culture. ” Publishers Weekly
“Linton’s sense of historical narrative is impressive … Cocaina is accessible enough to provide an excellent introduction for readers unfamiliar with the Colombia’s highly complex history. Yet the material is also original and thought-provoking, providing an excellent and worthy addition to the growing body of literature on drug legalization and its relation to post-modern ethics.” Colombia Reports
”If you want to know what has happened in Colombia (and in the world of cocaine) post-Pablo Escobar, then this book is a must-read. The author, Magnus Linton, covers the fascinating and sobering subject of cocaine by effectively weaving historical perspective (i.e. the different eras of recreational drug production in Colombia), contemporary anecdotal examples, and keen social observation, analysis, and commentary.” D. Furlano, Audible.
Extract from Swedish press, Reviews of Cocaína:
”I don’t know of any other Swedish journalist that with the same ease as Magnus Linton can move between the reporter’s presence, summaries of the fruits of academic labour and global political analysis: like a skilled driver, he manages to keep the style regardless of road conditions. There is something cinematic about his art of reporting: violent Spanish slang exploding the narrative, contrasted with nature poetry. It is a story about catastrophy, yet without phony advices or solutions.”
Björn af Kleen in Sydsvenskan
”Cocaina describes a reality in a constant state of change and in his stories from different corners of Colombia, Linton manages to weave in complicated historical perspectives in such a matter of factly way that you don’t even notice. He even manages to here and there illuminate the ‘other’ Colombia – the incredible country beyond drugs and violence that Linton himself would prefer to tell us about. It is in many way a brilliant book, based on stories that were not only difficult to write but also dangerous.”
Lars Palmgren in Swedish Radio’s P1:s Kulturnytt
”The thing with Cocaina is that it is damn good without the author himself being too visible. Linton does not write himself into the story, he does not position himself on the issue of legalization, except in a sweeping formulation in the preface about how he ‘neither wants cocain in the grocery store nor to live in a drug-free society’. And this is certainly not a pamphlet about a drug, rather it is an exposé on Colombia: a well researched and loving portrait of a nation with an unusually violent contemporary history.”
Philip Teir in Dagens Nyheter
”I notice while reading that I forget that there are actually people who use cocaine, all the users and abusers are abstracted by the concept of ‘demand’. This approach is admirable in all its stubborn consistency: we see the politics of cocaine much more clearly when we don’t mix in the reasons why people take drugs, the misery and the moralizing. Some might argue this makes half the picture. Linton seems to suggest that the picture this way gets so much clearer, and I agree.”
Ulrika Stahre in Aftonbladet
”Among all the exciting different strands in Magnus Linton’s story the most fascinating one is about how the USA’s war on drugs in Colombia is no longer concerned with exterminating cocaine, but rather about using the drug as an excuse to maintain geopolitical power in the region. This dimension makes it all the much harder to propose a simple solution to the humanitarian catastrophy that is the global war on drugs. Magnus Linton is wise enough to not shrink his magnificently complex story to a package of simple solutions.”
Johannes Forsberg in Expressen
”Linton skillfully switches between macro and micro perspectives. From portraits of partying backpackers and poor peasants growing coca, to the political game and its history and present. It is difficult to nail down power structures in both small and large contexts without becoming overexplicit, but Linton succeeds. A condition for this is the liberating lack of sentimentality that characterizes the book. Informed and straightforwardly, Linton tells us about the course of events and their history, without ever glorifying or victimizing anyone. At the same time the book is imbued with a strong pathos. The drug trade is an ever-present backdrop for a larger story on power, state and poverty.”
Elin Grelsson in Göteborgs-Posten
In conversation with Richard Fidler: Magnus Linton (ABC 8 May 2013)
Cocaine, Colombia and the War on Drugs (ABC May 13 2013)
Sunday Night Safran (ABC May 12 2013)
Drugs, violence and Colombia (Saturday Extra May 11 2013)
4BC News Talk (4BC May 6 2013)