Tuesday, December 2, 2008

En Peyar Escobar

En Peyar Escobar – Pa Raghavan

At the outset, I have to thank Kizhakku Pathippagam, Badri Seshadri and Haranprasanna for providing me this book for review.
Pablo Escobar ! The name may not ring a bell now but his name was on everyone’s lips during the 1980s and early 1990s. This drug warlord virtually ran an empire inside the South American city of Medellin, Colombia and gave sleepless nights to Colombian government and judiciary. Author Pa Raghavan (PaRa) traces Escobar’s growth from a small time car thief to a big time drug czar. The way he graduates from petty criminal to a big time drug smuggler is described in a rather pithy prose. The murder of Colombian presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galán, the bombing of Avianca Flight 203 and DAS building bombing in Bogota in 1989 are all explained in good detail. One marvels at the intelligence and audacity of Escobar in executing and planning his crimes. His rivalry with another deadly drug cartel;. Cali cartel, is also dealt with in great detail.
It is chilling to read the way Escobar equipped and financed the 1985 storming of the Colombian Supreme Court by left wing guerillas of M-19. This resulted in massacre of the half the judges of the court. The way he utilized the leftist revolutionary movements in Colombia for his own ends makes mockery of so-called socialist ideals the left wing movements were fighting for. Reading these senseless acts of terrorism in the backdrop of our own Mumbai terror unleashed by Lashkar terrorists over a period of 60 hours a few days ago (November 26th to November 28th) makes our blood run cold and agonize over these inhuman acts of violence and the meaninglessness of the acts. The most audacious of all is how Escobar surrendered to Colombian government on his own terms and ensconced himself in a plush private prison, La Catedral and continued to guide his cartel in its nefarious acts. Author details American complicity in drug rackets in South American and how later CIA helped Colombian government in killing Escobar in 1993 by providing radio triangulation technology in tracing his whereabouts.
PaRa’s style is quite breezy reminding one often of iconic writer extraordinaire Sujatha. It is indeed difficult to grip reader’s attention when talking about some criminal in a remote South American nation, but author manages to accomplish this quite effectively. The way he engages light humour peppered with sparkling wit is quite enjoyable.

The way he goes about evoking Tamil film lore, sandalwood smuggler Veerappan, Vijayakanth do add pep to the narrative. The pace is never flagging. I managed to finish the book (220 pages) in just three sittings of about 30-45 minutes each.

I cannot help but point out minor mistakes. On page 63 author says Norwegian nations when he must have meant Scandinavian nations. On page 73, Colombian politician Bonilla is wrongly transcribed. In Spanish, it is pronounced Bo-nee-ah. Yes, these are very minor irritants in an otherwise well-written book. Author is very thoughtful in listing out the books and web sites he researched for this book and has listed them out at the end of the book. After reading this version, one cannot wait to lay hands on books like Mark Bowden’s Killing Pablo.

Pa Raghavan has several books to his credit, the most famous being Dollar Desam – political history of USA and Nilamellam Ratham dealing with Israel – Palestine conflict. He is a prolific writer and has written books on various terrorist movements ranging from Aum Shinrikyo in Japan to our current nemesis Lashkar-E-Toiba.

All in all, I heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in world affairs, terrorism and any lay person interested in reading a good book.

Book Title: En Peyar Escobar
Author: Pa Raghavan
Price: ரூ.90
Pages: 224
Publishers: Kizhakku Pathippagam
33/15, Eldams Road
Alwarpet, Chennai 600 018
Phone: 044-42009601/03/04
Fax : 044-43009701

To purchase the book online click here

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