News Of A Kidnapping

Published By: Vintage

Book Category: Non-Fiction, Social Science

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Reviewed by Laura Langer

Gabriel García Márquez wrote News of a Kidnapping to tell the story of the ordeal of ten Colombian journalists who were abducted and held by Pablo Escobar’s drug organization in 1993 and 1994. A native Colombian and Nobel Prize winner for fiction, García Márquez weaves together the story of Maruja Pachón and the other captives, with the story of how Escobar and his Medellin cartel held their country in his power for years while he amassed a fortune, wreaked terror on ordinary people, and bargained for the right to be imprisoned in luxury in the place of his choosing.

Escobar captured prominent journalists Escobar to bring the attention of the country to his demands, and ultimately to have the assistance of the victims’ families in making his extradition to the United States illegal. García Márquez tells the stories in a linear fashion – clarifying the political, legislative and legal aspects of the story. At the same time, we see the arbitrary ordeal of the ten captives. Two of the abductees were eventually killed – one outright by the kidnappers and the other in confusion at a critical moment of release and rescue. The others are released over a period of months, after being moved from house to house, with changing groups of guards, and always the uncertainty of the outcome.

While García Márquez clearly has little patience for Escobar and his group, he manages to give the stories a context that makes some sense of them, while acknowledging the inherent insanity of what happens through the long months of captivity, bargaining and exchange. He makes no overt judgments about how the captives, their families, and their guards acted. We are left to understand them through the memories of the months spent together in small spaces, under tension.

Pablo Escobar and his cartel have largely faded from our consciousness of the world today, replaced by other troubles in other places. So much of that drug war took place in a setting difficult to understand, and distressing in the way that far-off troubles can often be – alarming but distant, echoing in someone else’s life. In this account, we see what it means to wait month after month without the solace of logic or hope that larger forces can come to our aid, at the mercy of chance, emotion, and the decisions of people we cannot control.

Armchair Interviews says: If you want an intense view of a country at war with itself through the eyes of its victims, pick up News of a Kidnapping. Then try one of Márquez’s novels.”

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