Comfortable and Furious



Mark Bowden, author of Blackhawk Down, spares no secrets in his tale of the world’s most notorious outlaw, Pablo Escobar.
The writing is honest, straightforward, and based on an endless trail
of research and interviews conducted with figures from both Colombia
and the United States who were instrumental in Escobar’s downfall. The
writing is direct and fast paced, filled with shady characters shifting
in and out of Colombia’s seedy drug world, forcing the reader to keep
up with an ever-changing and escalating climate of violence. Bowden has
a talent for bringing the reader face to face with the dark and often
vile nature of his characters.

Killing Pablo chronicles Pablo’s life — from chubby, middle-class suburban car thief, to Colombian Congressman, cocaine kingpin, and Forbes
multi-billionaire. Pablo’s life was a product of violence and
lawlessness that festered in Colombia long before his birth. Murder was
simply the way of life, and that way of life was exacerbated when Pablo
muscled his way into the cocaine-trafficking boom of the 1970s. From
the very beginning he met his enemies with death, be they rival cartel
members or government officials. By 1983, Pablo and his ringleaders
controlled 70 to 80 percent of Colombia’s cocaine industry, an industry
that earned them billions of dollars annually.

Bowden also takes us into Pablo’s private world of lavish
parties, endless supplies of marijuana, throngs of teenage girls, his
political and legal battles, and most notably, the cruel and lethal
scope of his power. Yet, through the smoke of urban warfare, we are
also presented with a different Pablo Escobar–a family man, a gentle
and polite man who spent millions of dollars making his hometown a
better place to live. He financed road construction, built soccer
fields and housing for the poor, even gave money away at personal
appearances. We are taken into the mind of a man that genuinely thought
of himself as a good man, a benefactor, a sponsor for the poor.

Escobar’s story is an incredible one, almost unbelievable at
times. He was a man who rarely left his hometown, but a man whose hand
reached into the pockets of government officials across Colombia, and a
man whose hand struck people down across the globe. At the height of
Escobar’s power, there were few people who crossed him and got away
with it. Judges, jurors, reporters, police, and even high ranking
government officials who opposed him were tracked down and murdered. He
brought the government to its knees through a vicious shooting,
bombing, and kidnapping campaign that left thousands of people dead. In
1989, Pablo ordered the murder of the front runner for the Colombian
presidency. Shortly after, in an attempt to kill the presidential
successor, Pablo’s men planted a bomb on an Avianca airliner, blowing
it out of the sky and killing all 110 passengers, including two
Americans. It was an act of international terror that would secretly
move large numbers of CIA personnel and American Special Forces into

Bowden shifts gears several times in the story, going great
lengths to expose the clandestine American intervention in the
Colombian crisis. We hear of 50-million-dollar spy planes being flown
in by the Pentagon, the extensive and covert surveillance equipment,
hundreds of botched raids, torture, and even the CIA’s collaboration
with local death squads in the hunting down and killing of Medellín
cartel members and ultimately, Pablo himself.

In the end, Bowden’s portrayal of Escobar is one that has you
reluctantly rooting for the bad guy, knowing that despite Escobar’s
crimes against humanity and his deluded self-righteousness, he was a
man that loved his family and country more than anything in the world.
Above all things, like Blackhawk Down, it is a book that
reveals how the United States has willingly and secretly aided in the
assassination of powerful political figures at odds with its foreign