Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America's Strangest Jail (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Macmillan, May 1, 2004 - Travel - 400 pages
159 Reviews

Rusty Young was backpacking in South America when he heard about Thomas McFadden, a convicted English drug trafficker who ran tours inside Bolivia's notorious San Pedro prison. Intrigued, the young Australian journalist went to La Paz and joined one of Thomas's illegal tours. They formed an instant friendship and then became partners in an attempt to record Thomas's experiences in the jail. Rusty bribed the guards to allow him to stay and for the next three months he lived inside the prison, sharing a cell with Thomas and recording one of the strangest and most compelling prison stories of all time. The result is Marching Powder.


This book establishes that San Pedro is not your average prison. Inmates are expected to buy their cells from real estate agents. Others run shops and restaurants. Women and children live with imprisoned family members. It is a place where corrupt politicians and drug lords live in luxury apartments, while the poorest prisoners are subjected to squalor and deprivation. Violence is a constant threat, and sections of San Pedro that echo with the sound of children by day house some of Bolivia's busiest cocaine laboratories by night. In San Pedro, cocaine--"Bolivian marching powder"--makes life bearable. Even the prison cat is addicted.


Yet Marching Powder is also the tale of friendship, a place where horror is countered by humor and cruelty and compassion can inhabit the same cell. This is cutting-edge travel-writing and a fascinating account of infiltration into the South American drug culture.

  

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Don't expect any deep literary prose from this. - Goodreads
The writing was just so weak. - Goodreads
Great readable storytelling, and a CRAZY story. - Goodreads
Gave scary insight into South American jail system. - Goodreads
Some problems with the writing, but still worth it. - Goodreads
The language n story telling is un inspiring. - Goodreads

Review: Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America's Strangest Jail

User Review  - Melissa - Goodreads

Marching Powder was a fascinating inside look at one of the most bizarre prisons in the world. Although written in a fairly simplistic style I found the story to be riveting and highly enjoyable! Read full review

Review: Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America's Strangest Jail

User Review  - Jessica Treiber - Goodreads

Written like a TV series, this epic tale of a charismatic Englishman who survives in his personality in a Bolivian jail, is the perfect story to take you on an adventure. The true story is heart ... Read full review

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About the author (2004)

Rusty Young currently lives in Colombia, where he teaches English.


Thomas McFadden was released from San Pedro and now lives in England.

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