Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Book Review: Escobar by Roberto Escobar & David Fisher

Escobar - Roberto Escobar & David Fisher

Life for Pablo Escobar was never going to be ordinary. Growing up in the poorest part of Colombia, he dreamed of becoming a millionaire and, eventually, the president of his country. Meanwhile, his older brother Roberto was interested in cycling, hoping to set up his own bike factory and represent Colombia in world cycling events.
Growing up in poverty, with barely enough money to get by, it seemed that the Escobar boys’ dreams would remain just that- dreams.
But as they grew older, circumstances and good fortune allowed them to succeed and see some of their dreams come true (although this wasn’t necessarily through legal means). Soon Pablo was heading a successful contraband smuggling business and Roberto was selling his bicycles to several large stores.
But then Pablo realised he could make more money producing and smuggling cocaine, and that’s when their lives changed completely.
With his drug business booming- especially in America- Pablo enlisted the help of other smugglers, and formed Colombia’s most infamous drug cartel, MedellĂ­n.
He also hired Roberto, a qualified accountant, to handle the millions of dollars of dirty money that was coming in.
Soon Pablo had more money than he knew what to do with, and he started to give it away to the poverty-stricken members of his community- helping to enrich their lives, and buying their undying loyalty at the same time.
But there were people determined to bring Pablo down, namely American politicians and the new Colombian government, who were intent on stamping out drug smuggling. With these forces trying to destroy his livelihood, and the lives of many Colombians, Pablo decided to fight back, and so began a war filled with bloodshed and murder.
This is the biography of the legendary Pablo Escobar, as told by his closest confidant- his brother Roberto. This book covers the highs and lows of Pablo Escobar’s life, and details the many things- both good and bad- that he did throughout his lifetime to make him such a notorious yet beloved member of Colombian society.

What I gained from reading this book:
This book was written so that Roberto could tell the world the truth about his famous outlaw brother. He did not write it to clear his brother from crimes committed or to paint a portrait of him as an innocent. In fact, Escobar goes into much detail about some of the unthinkable things that his brother was involved in, and doesn’t pardon him at all for some of the terrible things he did (only saying that if he could have prevented some of it, he would have). But Escobar also heaps praise on Pablo, for being such a kind-hearted soul to the poorer people of Colombia and for showing them so much charity and compassion.
These contrasting views of the same man provide an interesting picture of the outlaw who holds a place in the record books for launching one of the biggest manhunts in history.
This book also proves that people shouldn’t pass judgement on others without knowing the full story. I’m sure that many of the people who were after Pablo Escobar for his drug trafficking had no idea about his ‘Robin Hood’ reputation, given to him by the poorest people of Colombia.

Pablo and Roberto Escobar were very close- towards the end of Pablo’s life, Roberto was one of the few people that he could trust. Because of this trust, Escobar was privy to many things that were never revealed to the public about the cartel, the money and the numerous murders and kidnappings. Escobar’s biography elaborates on much of the information known on Pablo, and establishes which rumours were true and which weren’t, while shedding new light on the life of his brother.

The narrative jumps a little bit in this biography- Escobar will be talking about one event that occurs and then, in the next paragraph, might jump several years forward or backward to prove a point (leaving a very fragile link between the two events).
If you’re hoping to read about Pablo Escobar’s life in chronological order, then you could get a little frustrated with this book at some points.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Genre: Biography

Recommended for: People who have heard the legend of Pablo Escobar and would like to learn about his life- told from the point of view of his older brother.

Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below:

Escobar: The Inside Story of Pablo Escobar, the World's Most Powerful Criminal

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