Marching Powder: A True Story Of Friendship, Cocaine, And South America's Strangest Jail

Paperback | May 31, 2004

byRusty Young

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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 journalisted 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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From the Publisher

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 journalisted went to La Paz and joined one of Thomas's illegal tours. They formed an instant friendship and then became partners...

Format:PaperbackDimensions:371 pages, 8.12 × 6.58 × 1.04 inPublished:May 31, 2004Publisher:St. Martin's PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0312330340

ISBN - 13:9780312330347

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Customer Reviews of Marching Powder: A True Story Of Friendship, Cocaine, And South America's Strangest Jail

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Can't wait to see Brad Pitt's adaptation Marching Powder is the true account of Thomas McFadden, an English drug trafficker whose luck runs out whilst trying to pass through the airport in Bolivia with cocaine hidden in the spires of his suitcase. We follow his journey through his incarceration in one of the most unbelievable prisons to be found in all of South America, where most facilities are ridiculous in their own right. San Pedro is a place where children and wives live with their incarcerated fathers and husbands, where the best drugs on the continent are manufactured and smuggled out through the same women and children, and where capitalism and wealth rule daily life and their ability to survive. This is a disturbing yet wildly captivating story of a world that doesn't seem plausible when you compare it to the prison systems that can be found in North America, or Europe even. I look forward to the movie that will be coming out in 2010 with Don Cheadle as Thomas. This is sure to be as big if not bigger a hit as Midnight Express was in the '70s. www.booksnakereviews.blogspot.com
Date published: 2010-03-26