the domineer

Review | Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography by Dominic Streatfeild

Genre: nonfiction, culture, history
Setting: pretty much everywhere, nineteenth century to 2001
# of Pages: 499
Rating: 4/5

The skinny: An English journalist goes on a whirlwind worldwide tour of the cocaine phenomenon.

The fat: Streatfeild might be the perfect person to tell you all about cocaine, because at the outset of writing this book he knew as much about it as the average Westerner: i. e., not much. That might sound like a bad thing but it actually isn’t, because Streatfeild goes into the history, culture, and economics of cocaine with no preconceived notions. He talks to everyone from Colombian politicians to DEA agents to Freud experts to Marxist guerrillas to world-famous most-wanted traffickers, and he does it all with good humor and a healthy suspicion of everyone’s story. The surprisingly entertaining account starts to drag around three hundred pages, but just when you think you can’t take any more minutiae about the agricultural dynamics of the Bolivian hinterland, the pace picks up again with a visit to the infamous Ochoa brothers. All in all, an informative and largely unbiased account of one of the biggest, baddest industries in the world.