Book Review: At the Devil’s Table by William C. Rempel

July 6, 2011

About:

“At the Devil’s Table: The Untold Story of the Insider Who Brought Down the Cali Cartel” by William C. Rempel is a non-fiction narrative of the Cali drug cartel in the 1990s. The book is written in an investigative journalism style.

  • 368 pages
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Language: English
    ISBN:
    1400068371

My rating for At the Devil’s Table5
Buy At the Devil’s Table from Amazon.com*
More Books by William C. Rempel*

Thoughts:

“At the Devil’s Table: The Untold Story of the Insider Who Brought Down the Cali Cartel” by William C. Rempel (Website | @AtTheDT) is a first-rate book with a narrow focus on the central character, Jorge Salcedo. Mr. Salcedo’s story and viewpoint are an amazing insight into the world of the heads of the Cali cartel family.

The author, William C. Rempel, is a respected reporter for the LA Times, he interviewed Mr. Salcedo over a number of years, mostly by phone due to Mr. Salcedo’s status in the Federal Witness Protection Program. Mr. Rempel did crosscheck the information from court records and testimony from other key figures in this complex story.

The book has all the strength of an investigative article without going into too much detail unless appropriate. It would have been easy for the author to divert from the story to the comment on the international drug trade, for example, but he didn’t and so the narrative kept flowing smoothly and without interruptions.

While in some places the book does try to be lyrical, poetic, or whatnot using prose or adjective, it mostly stays focused, easy to read, and best of all, backed by solid data. The heart of the story lies in the testimony, honesty, and believably of Mr. Salcedo’s account. The eyewitness testimony is not embellished or dramatized – it is simply told as is.

The author found the rare balance of writing an interesting book and yet peppering it with ordinary details such as daily conversations, ground layout, and more. It is a difficult task and I was amazed that the book held my interest throughout.

The book provides a fascinating insight into the world of drug trading and the cartels. A world where corruption and violence are not only the norms but the pillars that hold it aloft.

About:

Jorge Salcedo was an insider of the Cali cartel. He personally saw to the safety of the heads of the family and became their electronic security expert. Mr. Salcedo thinks of himself as noble, he joined the cartel to fight against the notorious and brutal Pablo Escobar, head of the Medellín cartel.

Mr. Salcedo avoided dealing directly with cocaine and violence, keeping his hand clean. However the lifestyle slowly entrapped him with no way out. As the US administration began to get involved, the widespread corruption which included the high echelons of government, army, police and judiciary began to break and Mr. Salcedo was able to contact the DEA and help bring down the heads of the cartel.

Buy At the Devil’s Table from Amazon.com*
More Books by William C. Rempel*

Zohar – Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I got this book for free.
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books

Article first published as Book Review: At the Devil’s Table: The Untold Story of the Insider Who Brought Down the Cali Cartel by William C. Rempel on Blogcritics.

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Wrap Up

Book Review: At the Devil's Table by William C. Rempel

4 Comments

  • michael Draper July 11, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    “At The Devil’s Table,” seems like an interesting book.
    Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
    Mike

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) July 12, 2011 at 8:05 am

    This sounds interesting to me. I read another about the Cali cartel – The Accountant’s Story – and found it fascinating how the people there justified what they were doing.

    • zohar July 12, 2011 at 8:25 am

      Yes, it it amazing the justification we all go through when we’re doing something we know is clearly wrong.

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