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

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Pan Macmillan, 2003 - Cocaine industry - 371 pages
221 Reviews
A true story of friendship, cocaine and South America's strangest jail.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 twenty-something Australian law graduate travelled to La Paz and joined one of Thomas's illegal tours. What followed took both men by surprise: they formed a strong and 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. Marching Powder is a shocking, sometimes darkly comic account of the life in San Pedro. In this bizarre prison, inmates are expected to buy their cells from real estate agents. Others run shops and restaurants, and hundreds of 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 and crime are never far away, 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 makes life bearable–even the prison cat is addicted to crack.Yet amid the corruption, brutality and the daily struggle for survival, Marching Powder is also the tale of an unlikely friendship, forged in the oddest of circumstances, between a drug smuggler and a lawyer. It is the story of one of the strangest places on earth, where horror is leavened by humour and where cruelty lives side by side with compassion.

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5 stars
86
4 stars
70
3 stars
39
2 stars
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This book was interesting and easy to read. - Goodreads
The writing was just so weak. - Goodreads
Don't expect any deep literary prose from this. - Goodreads
Great readable storytelling, and a CRAZY story. - Goodreads
Some problems with the writing, but still worth it. - Goodreads
Easy to read and got in to it right away. - Goodreads

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

User Review  - Jodi - Goodreads

This book was interesting and easy to read. At times it was funny and emotional and gave a useful insight into the reality of San Pedro prison. Read full review

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

User Review  - Simon - Goodreads

I found the book interesting and easy to read. It wasn't well written in a sense that it was gripping but I liked how honest the writing was and the emotion Thomas was going through. It was very real. Read full review

All 62 reviews »

About the author (2003)

Rusty Young grew up in Sydney, Australia. He studied Finance and Law at the University of New South Wales and currently lives in Colombia, where he teaches English.

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