Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Written for the Road...

MARCHING POWDER: A TRUE STORY OF FRIENDSHIP, COCAINE, AND SOUTH AMERICA’S STRANGEST JAIL is the true story of Thomas McFadden, a young British man arrested for drug smuggling, and jailed in Bolivia’s notorious San Pedro Prison in La Paz. Drug smuggler and Prison stories have been told, and told again, but I have never read anything like this, and you probably haven’t either. With the help of Rusty Young, an Australian traveler-turned friend to McFadden, this extraordinary memoir was recorded in secret from inside one of the world’s most bizarre places. San Pedro is like a city: inmates must "buy" their cells from real estate agents, drug lords live in the high style to which they are accustomed, and the destitute, as always, live a hand-to-mouth existence. Some inmates have children and wives living with them. There are shops and restaurants, pets, and production of some of the purest cocaine in the world. Thomas had no choice but to quickly learn how to make a living and survive in his new home. He started giving illegal prison tours to backpackers who ended up as friends and generous supporters, both financially and emotionally. McFadden and San Pedro Prison became so renowned amongst travelers, that San Pedro even gained mention in the Lonely Planet guidebook.

McFadden and Young’s descriptive writing not only makes you feel as if you’re in San Pedro yourself, but the graphic details even had a physical affect on me at points. McFadden’s stories are remarkable, disturbing, touching, captivating, and simply unbelievable.

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