Book Review: Manhunters by Steve Murphy and Javier F. Peña

About:
Manhunters: How We Took Down Pablo Escobar, the World’s Most Wanted Criminal by Steve Murphy and Javier F. Peña is a memoir of the two Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents who spent decades hunting drug traffickers. The two authors are the subject of the Netflix show Narcos, which follows their hunt for Pablo Escobar in Colombia.

 

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My rat­ing for Manhunters: How We Took Down Pablo Escobar, the World’s Most Wanted Criminal5
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Thoughts:
This is a fascinating look inside the DEA, how they worked this famous case, and their relationship with outside entities. The authors are very generous in giving credit where its due, and not taking all the glory for themselves.

Manhunters: How We Took Down Pablo Escobar, the World’s Most Wanted Criminal by Steve Murphy and Javier F. Peña is written with alternating chapters by the authors. They talk about their beginnings in law enforcement, their time at the DEA academy, their lives in Colombia, and up to the time where Escobar got killed.

The most surprising aspect of this book is how smooth it is. The alternating chapters, written in the point of view of either Mr. Murphy or Mr. Peña flow into a smooth narrative, which makes the book very enjoyable, and not as distracting as I thought it would be.

The authors talk about their hardships during the investigation, and share the credit all around, especially with the Colombian National Police (CNP). Mr. Murphy even goes as far as to apologize for the famous picture he is seen in, which out of context is easily interpreted as who actually got Escobar.

Being that this book is written with hindsight of several decades, the authors seem to forgive the bad decisions their superiors made, and appreciate even more the job the CNP, the CNP Search Bloc unit, Colombian military, and the embassy staff has done contributing to an overall effort to catch a man responsible for thousands of deaths.
They do, however, have a few choice words for the CIA.

Even though the book touched on corruption, I don’t think it went too much into it. This is one fascinating, and I’m sure frustrating, issue that the agents have faced to the top echelon of Colombian government. That being said, being faced with the choice of “plata o plomo” (silver or lead) is not one I’d be happy to make and frankly, there is really no good answer.

I did not expect this book to be as thrilling as it was, especially telling a story I already knew. The authors managed to tell a good story, with personal insights about the hard, and thankless work they’ve done.

Buy Manhunters: How We Took Down Pablo Escobar, the World’s Most Wanted Criminal from Amazon.com*
More Books by Steve Murphy*
More Books by Javier F. Peña*

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I got this book for free.
*Ama­zon links point to an affiliate account

 

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