La Plaza

News from Latin America and the Caribbean

« Previous Post | La Plaza Home | Next Post »

Book review: 'The Accountant's Story,' a tale about narco baron Pablo Escobar, by his brother

February 25, 2009 |  9:14 am


If you speak a little Spanish and recently have spent a bit of time anywhere near the border, you've probably heard a narcocorrido, a ballad sung to danceable norteño-style music with lyrics that romanticize the drug trade, writes Tim Rutten in the Los Angeles Times book section.

Rutten writes that "The Accountant's Story: Inside the Violent World of the Medellín Cartel" is the literary equivalent of a narcocorrido -- "without the redeeming virtue of a catchy, polka-inflected beat."

The book's cover bears two additional subtitles: one informing us that this is "the true story of Pablo Escobar"; the other that the author, Roberto Escobar, is his brother.

But the reviewer is unimpressed with Escobar's account of his brother's cocaine empire which, according to Forbes magazine, accounted for 80% of the world's cocaine traffic:

This oddly flat and, frankly, repellent book is certainly not confessional and is, in fact, less a memoir than it is an apologia for the brother Roberto quite obviously admires still. Pablo's drift into criminality is, in his brother's mind, at least, the inevitable consequence of growing up poor and ambitious in a violent, underdeveloped society. The fact that hundreds of thousands of other young men growing up in similar circumstances didn't elect to better themselves by profiteering on misery and death is airily passed over; Pablo, after all, was 'a born leader.

Read the full review here.

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City

Photo: A visitor tours a Colombian ranch once owned by Pablo Escobar. Credit: Luis Benavides / Associated Press