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In July 1995, San Jose Mercury-News reporter Gary Webb found the Big One--the blockbuster story every journalist secretly dreams about--without even looking for it. A simple phone call concerning an unexceptional pending drug trial turned into a massive conspiracy involving the Nicaraguan Contra rebels, L.A. and Bay Area crack cocaine dealers, and the Central Intelligence In July 1995, San Jose Mercury-News reporter Gary Webb found the Big One--the blockbuster story every journalist secretly dreams about--without even looking for it. A simple phone call concerning an unexceptional pending drug trial turned into a massive conspiracy involving the Nicaraguan Contra rebels, L.A. and Bay Area crack cocaine dealers, and the Central Intelligence Agency. For several years during the 1980s, Webb discovered, Contra elements shuttled thousands of tons of cocaine into the United States, with the profits going toward the funding of Contra rebels attempting a counterrevolution in their Nicaraguan homeland. Even more chilling, Webb quickly realized, was that the massive drug-dealing operation had the implicit approval--and occasional outright support--of the CIA, the very organization entrusted to prevent illegal drugs from being brought into the United States. Within the pages of Dark Alliance, Webb produces a massive amount of evidence that suggests that such a scenario did take place, and more disturbing evidence that the powers that be that allowed such an alliance are still determined to ruthlessly guard their secrets. Webb's research is impeccable--names, dates, places, and dollar amounts gather and mount with every page, eventually building a towering wall of evidence in support of his theories. After the original series of articles ran in the Mercury-News in late 1996, both Webb and his paper were so severely criticized by political commentators, government officials, and other members of the press that his own newspaper decided it best not to stand behind the series, in effect apologizing for the assertions and disavowing his work. Webb quit the paper in disgust in November 1997. His book serves as both a complex memoir of the time of the Contras and an indictment of the current state of America's press; Dark Alliance is as necessary and valuable as it is horrifying and grim. --Tjames Madison --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. 


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In July 1995, San Jose Mercury-News reporter Gary Webb found the Big One--the blockbuster story every journalist secretly dreams about--without even looking for it. A simple phone call concerning an unexceptional pending drug trial turned into a massive conspiracy involving the Nicaraguan Contra rebels, L.A. and Bay Area crack cocaine dealers, and the Central Intelligence In July 1995, San Jose Mercury-News reporter Gary Webb found the Big One--the blockbuster story every journalist secretly dreams about--without even looking for it. A simple phone call concerning an unexceptional pending drug trial turned into a massive conspiracy involving the Nicaraguan Contra rebels, L.A. and Bay Area crack cocaine dealers, and the Central Intelligence Agency. For several years during the 1980s, Webb discovered, Contra elements shuttled thousands of tons of cocaine into the United States, with the profits going toward the funding of Contra rebels attempting a counterrevolution in their Nicaraguan homeland. Even more chilling, Webb quickly realized, was that the massive drug-dealing operation had the implicit approval--and occasional outright support--of the CIA, the very organization entrusted to prevent illegal drugs from being brought into the United States. Within the pages of Dark Alliance, Webb produces a massive amount of evidence that suggests that such a scenario did take place, and more disturbing evidence that the powers that be that allowed such an alliance are still determined to ruthlessly guard their secrets. Webb's research is impeccable--names, dates, places, and dollar amounts gather and mount with every page, eventually building a towering wall of evidence in support of his theories. After the original series of articles ran in the Mercury-News in late 1996, both Webb and his paper were so severely criticized by political commentators, government officials, and other members of the press that his own newspaper decided it best not to stand behind the series, in effect apologizing for the assertions and disavowing his work. Webb quit the paper in disgust in November 1997. His book serves as both a complex memoir of the time of the Contras and an indictment of the current state of America's press; Dark Alliance is as necessary and valuable as it is horrifying and grim. --Tjames Madison --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. 

30 review for Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion

  1. 4 out of 5

    Manuel

    ABSOLUTELY ASTOUNDING! Should be read by every American to truly understand the origins of the of the present day African American urban condition. Picture this: the Reagan Administration comes into office and immediately sets out to depose the Sandinistas through the Contras. In the beginning, they pass a minor act that says that the CIA no longer needs to report the criminal activities of its informants to the Dept. of Justice or the DEA. Then, Oliver North and co. hook up with dozens of known ABSOLUTELY ASTOUNDING! Should be read by every American to truly understand the origins of the of the present day African American urban condition. Picture this: the Reagan Administration comes into office and immediately sets out to depose the Sandinistas through the Contras. In the beginning, they pass a minor act that says that the CIA no longer needs to report the criminal activities of its informants to the Dept. of Justice or the DEA. Then, Oliver North and co. hook up with dozens of known Nicaraguan drug traffickers to raise funds for the illegal covert war. They do so through the importation and sale of cocaine in the United States. Planes carrying weapons for the Contras were unloaded in Costa Rica and El Salvador, only to be reloaded with kilos of cocaine and returned to the US, with a tacit understanding that the CIA was looking the other way. The principal traffickers, on CIA payroll, become the sole suppliers to one Ricky Ross, the man who would launch and monopolize the crack epidemic in South Central LA and spread it throughout the country. Through such criminal negligence, the "Just Say No" Administration for years funnelled millions worth of cocaine into poor black neighborhoods to fund this war. Any time law enforcement got close to a prosecution, gov't would suspiciously intervene, evidence would mysteriously disappear, and sentences would be unexplicably reduced. As if that wasn't enough, once the drugs-for-guns link was established, the Contra supporters turned around and started selling weapons to the LA dope dealers. In effect, they were responsible for making the Bloods and the Crips rich and then arming them, allowing them to spread out to urban ghettoes across the nation. The book is a little dense, because the author goes way out of his way to back up his facts with as much evidence as possible, considering that when he launched the story in 1996, he was attacked by the mainstream media, the government, and hung out to dry by his own newspaper editors. But he certainly touched some nerves, because this poor truth crusader, who had won a Pulitzer and many journalism awards, spent the rest of his life unable to find another reporting job, only to die alone in a very suspicious suicide (he was found with two shots to the head). I have never been more disgusted by the havoc wreaked in the name of "national security" and the complicity of the mainstream media. Spread the word.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Joyce

    He was a Pulitzer-Prize journalist who NEVER pandered to opinion, his veracity and fearlessness unyielding. His quote is both inspiring and chilling. “... I was winning awards, getting raises, lecturing college classes, appearing on TV shows, and judging journalism contests. And then I wrote some stories that made me realize how sadly misplaced my bliss had been. The reason I'd enjoyed such smooth sailing for so long hadn't been, as I'd assumed, because I was careful and diligent and good at my He was a Pulitzer-Prize journalist who NEVER pandered to opinion, his veracity and fearlessness unyielding. His quote is both inspiring and chilling. “... I was winning awards, getting raises, lecturing college classes, appearing on TV shows, and judging journalism contests. And then I wrote some stories that made me realize how sadly misplaced my bliss had been. The reason I'd enjoyed such smooth sailing for so long hadn't been, as I'd assumed, because I was careful and diligent and good at my job ... The truth was that, in all those years, I hadn't written anything important enough to suppress...” What was suppressed is delineated in Dark Alliance. Gary, you are deeply, deeply missed. Wendy Joyce

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cwn_annwn_13

    Gary Webb proves that at the very least the US government at the highest levels knew about and protected Contra connected Nicaraguans who were smuggling MASSIVE amounts of cocaine into America and more or less created and caused the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980's. These same Nicaraguans were in most cases working for the CIA. Don't kid yourself, the global elite control the drug trade. The CIA is just a conduit for them to do it. From what I have read the illegal drug trade is the second l Gary Webb proves that at the very least the US government at the highest levels knew about and protected Contra connected Nicaraguans who were smuggling MASSIVE amounts of cocaine into America and more or less created and caused the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980's. These same Nicaraguans were in most cases working for the CIA. Don't kid yourself, the global elite control the drug trade. The CIA is just a conduit for them to do it. From what I have read the illegal drug trade is the second largest industry in the world so why should it be any surprise? Whats covered in Dark Alliance is just one of their many operations along these lines. Do some research about Mena, Arkansas and Barry Seal. Read the book Dope Inc. Read Celerino Castillo's book. Do you think its a coincidence that once the American military removed the Taliban from Afghanistan and installed a puppet government that Heroin use has went to all time highs? Gee I wonder why there is so much semi-covert US military and CIA action going on in Columbia these days? One of the main reasons new world order military forces were in the Balkans murdering Serbians was because they want to control that area because its a big drug pipeline for smuggling Heroin and Hash into Europe from Afghanistan and Pakistan. The CIA was caught smuggling Heroin into America by sewing kilos inside of dead bodies during the Vietnam war. A drug lord that totally controlled a whole region of Cambodia admitted on videotape that the CIA was who he was doing his business with. I mean what do you need to hear to know the United States government is a criminal enterprise!?!? Gary Webb somehow managed to commit "suicide" by shooting himself in the head TWICE! Murders made to look like "suicides" are trademarks of the CIA. Webb was sniffing around and exposing a lot of dangerous people, from Crips and Bloods, to Columbian drug lords, to the highest level of the US government so it shouldn't be that surprising that he turned up dead under mysterious circumstances. Although we will most likely never know for sure who murdered him (most likely it was the cia) don't believe for one second that this guy commited suicide.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    Webb's basic assertion is that the CIA enabled Nicaraguan Contras to fund their organization by functioning as one of the top cocaine exporters to the Unites States. Exhaustively researched and documented, Webb's citations include numerous declassified government documents and interviews. He makes an unassailable case that the CIA was aware of Contra drug dealing, and gave them tacit legal protection from the DEA, FBI, narcs, etc., under the guise that they were valuable 'assets.' Webb was effec Webb's basic assertion is that the CIA enabled Nicaraguan Contras to fund their organization by functioning as one of the top cocaine exporters to the Unites States. Exhaustively researched and documented, Webb's citations include numerous declassified government documents and interviews. He makes an unassailable case that the CIA was aware of Contra drug dealing, and gave them tacit legal protection from the DEA, FBI, narcs, etc., under the guise that they were valuable 'assets.' Webb was effectively blacklisted as a journalist following the publication of his original news articles in the San Jose Mercury News and was subjected to ad hominem attacks by major news outlets. He was undoubtedly aware that the CIA wouldn't take such substantial criticism sitting down but the backlash proved too much for him. Unfortunately he was found dead in 2004, ruled a suicide. Essential reading for those interested in uncensored 20th century US history and the less honorable workings of power.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    When you hear of the Iran-Contra scandal you mostly think of the hostage crisis that happened in Tehran, Iran which was seen as another case of blowback by many. There's another piece to the portrait, the drug running and the turned, and sometimes supportive head of the CIA, DEA, and Reagan Administration to fund the Contras, a right-wing guerilla group. The funding was done by the trade of drugs for arms. Cocaine poured into this country unlike anytime before and it was largely due to an secret When you hear of the Iran-Contra scandal you mostly think of the hostage crisis that happened in Tehran, Iran which was seen as another case of blowback by many. There's another piece to the portrait, the drug running and the turned, and sometimes supportive head of the CIA, DEA, and Reagan Administration to fund the Contras, a right-wing guerilla group. The funding was done by the trade of drugs for arms. Cocaine poured into this country unlike anytime before and it was largely due to an secret agenda and the negligence of the U.S. government. One of results was the destruction of poor, black communities, and the rise of gangs in South Central L.A.. Gary Webb's tome is magnificent. There's so much data packed in here that I was only able to read certain parts of the book in spacious intervals. It doesn't take very long to be convinced that Gary is not just another journalist, with achieving more than 30 journalistic awards including a Pulitzer Prize, it's hard not to take this guy seriously. Take a glance at his Wiki page. Despite all that, Gary has the code for truth-telling structured in his DNA, unlike many other journalists, as examples can be found in the book. I believe the book was best summed up by Jo Ann Kawell of The Nation: "I find his argument to be very well documented, very careful and very convincing. In fact, the readability of the book suffers a bit from what seems to have been a fear that if he didn't include absolutely every bit of evidence he had unearthed, he would open himself up to new criticisms of inadequate reporting" There's a good, popular documentary that touches on the Gary Webb story, it's titled "American Drug War: The Last White Hope". It provides a concise introduction to Gary's work, the issues surrounding him, his death, and the country. A quote from Gary at the beginning sets the tone: "Dark Alliance does not propound a conspiracy theory; there is nothing theoretical about history. In this case, it is undeniable that a wildly successful conspiracy to import cocaine existed for many years, and that innumerable American citizens--most of them poor and black--paid an enormous price as a result. This book was written for them, so that they may know upon what altars their communities were sacrificed." He tells the following stories very convincingly: 1.) How the CIA and the NSC worked with dozens of drug dealers and their companies to secretly fund right-wing Latin American guerrillas. 2.) The decade-long U.S.-government coverup of the CIA-Contra drug trafficking and illegal gun-running network. 3.) How the DEA undermined a criminal investigation by the FBI in order to shield a massive L.A. drug ring and protect the drug ring's boss from arrest and exposure. Other things you will learn: 1.) Details about cocaine and crack-cocaine production 2.) Government studies on the safety of cocaine. (Much more safe than I expected) 3.) The story of the infamous drug dealer Ricky Ross a.k.a Freeway Rick 4.) That the result of the drug trafficking helped destroy the black communities in L.A.. and other densely urbanized parts of the U.S. 5.) To be more skeptical and cautious of what the "masters"/authorities say 6.) The hypocrisy of Reagan's "War on Drugs" 7.) Journalism, you'll learn a little about the business, and get some insight of what it's like to deal with editors by living vicariously. Gary documents himself very well and puts you in his shoes, almost seems 1st person at times. Parts of the book, albeit, a small portion, read like a story due to the all the documented dialogue in conversation and interviews. Those parts were especially enjoyable and a nice break from the data-heavy majority. I enjoyed Part Two a lot, it was where Gary made a strong defense against the claims of his critics by delving into the deceit of the accusers, such as the purposeful omission of crucial documents. One thing that struck me as especially interesting was that this story was the one to really set the stage in the online world. Gary pushed the San Jose Mercury to publish his sources, documents, and transcripts so that people could read them and mold their own opinions. Apparently, at that time this was something virtually unprecedented, it was designing a new stage for media outlets and news. e.g. The boom of the internet in the 90's. The story of the last few years of Gary's life ended up being an unfortunate tragedy. Ousted from writing and the media industry, pressured by the Big Three (New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times) and the U.S. government trying to cover their tracks...Gary took his own life. "Webb's ex-wife, Sue Bell, said that Webb had been depressed for some time over his inability to get a job at another major newspaper." - Gary Webb, WikiPedia. The book is about an 2 inches thick and 9 inches in length, pretty big. The pages read and turn well, I would say the font is a medium size, not too big, not too small, not enough to overwhelm you with the size of the book. This is a marvelously informative read, don't miss out on this one. A topic, that I believe, a majority of U.S. citizens know very little or nothing about...I was included.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Moataz Mohamed

    I happened to read this book just after I read Hillary Clinton's Hard Choices. When you read official American statements, they will make you picture America as the war veteran that is seeking the well-being of the whole wide world (except Russia, and sometimes the Arabs). BUT, when you read the statements of the real deal, and yes Gary Webb is obviously the real deal, you will see the amount of deceit and lies the government spreads just to cover their dirty tracks. Even years after Gary Webb bl I happened to read this book just after I read Hillary Clinton's Hard Choices. When you read official American statements, they will make you picture America as the war veteran that is seeking the well-being of the whole wide world (except Russia, and sometimes the Arabs). BUT, when you read the statements of the real deal, and yes Gary Webb is obviously the real deal, you will see the amount of deceit and lies the government spreads just to cover their dirty tracks. Even years after Gary Webb blew the balloon of their scandal, they hunted him down, killed them, no official reports about it, but it's fucking obvious , and made the vengeful homicide appear to be a suicide. I have no real intention to conclude the huge book, for it's a journey you'll have to take, O dear reader. But all I want to say is, this book has been written with blood. They lines you'd be reading would have never be read by your or my eyes if Gary Webb had a second thought of his own personal safety.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Brad B

    I was looking for more of a macro-level take on these events, but that doesn't diminish the importance of Gary Webb's Dark Alliance. This is a highly detailed book, with a lot of specifics about meetings and drug transactions. Webb meticulously documented his sources, some of which were interviews with the actual participants, and court records that authorities hoped the public would never learn about. I'm writing this in the U.S. in the summer of 2020, when a lot of people are shocked at the cu I was looking for more of a macro-level take on these events, but that doesn't diminish the importance of Gary Webb's Dark Alliance. This is a highly detailed book, with a lot of specifics about meetings and drug transactions. Webb meticulously documented his sources, some of which were interviews with the actual participants, and court records that authorities hoped the public would never learn about. I'm writing this in the U.S. in the summer of 2020, when a lot of people are shocked at the current administration's apathy toward human life during a global pandemic. Reading Gary Webb's book is a reminder that this disregard for life is nothing new. Dark Alliance makes a nice companion read with Haynes Johnson's Sleepwalking Through History, which I'm also currently reading.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel Avocado

    long read, tedious at parts, but it reads like a crime thriller. webb writes (or wrote...) like a pulp fiction crime novelist which makes the fact that everything in this book all the more incredible. i found it hard to put down whenever i did pick it up, but boy is this book just full of bad news. 'the CIA invented crack' is one of those things you hear, either seriously or mockingly, along your life and you never know how genuine it is but then when you discover that reality is not exactly tha long read, tedious at parts, but it reads like a crime thriller. webb writes (or wrote...) like a pulp fiction crime novelist which makes the fact that everything in this book all the more incredible. i found it hard to put down whenever i did pick it up, but boy is this book just full of bad news. 'the CIA invented crack' is one of those things you hear, either seriously or mockingly, along your life and you never know how genuine it is but then when you discover that reality is not exactly that true but in fact far more horrific than any conspiracy theory.... while the story itself is incredibly compelling, there is a metanarrative at work here that is deeply troubling. after years of harassment from the CIA and abuses at work, gary webb supposedly committed suicide. not to brag but i know a lot of different ways of killing oneself and i cannot figure out for the life of me how or why one would shoot yourself in the back of the head. i avoid conspiracy theories like this because theyre too easy to fall into, especially when you have a tremendous amount of ease slipping into paranoid states like me, but all of this leaves me uneasy. as a latin american, i am no stranger to CIA meddling on the continent. yet its apparently so much worse than mere propaganda, or arming death squads. the CIA does not give an actual fuck. they will sell black americans drugs and ruin their communities for generations to come to fund the destruction of an entire continent and ruin our communities for generations to come. its a cycle of fucking intense evil and it scares me, no less because it is a week away before the runoff elections in my country and all the evidence points to heavy CIA meddling in these elections.... i didnt mean to get so dark here. but i suppose my only two caveats would be about the length (though ive read two nearly 1000 page books this year whatever) and the depressing nature of the book itself. i highly recommend it even if youre just going to reference it, but dark alliance itself is a hell of a story.

  9. 5 out of 5

    A

    Please read this book. If you are already doubtful of the CIA & other US government agencies, this will expand your understanding and steer you away from ever trusting them. If you don't know much about the history of the CIA, especially its actions, this book is a must read. In 1979, the fascist family dynasty of Nicaragua, the Somozas, are removed from Nicaragua as the Sandinistas win their revolution. The Somozas and their corrupt supporters (many National Guard) hide in Nicaragua or flee to t Please read this book. If you are already doubtful of the CIA & other US government agencies, this will expand your understanding and steer you away from ever trusting them. If you don't know much about the history of the CIA, especially its actions, this book is a must read. In 1979, the fascist family dynasty of Nicaragua, the Somozas, are removed from Nicaragua as the Sandinistas win their revolution. The Somozas and their corrupt supporters (many National Guard) hide in Nicaragua or flee to the USA & nearby countries. (The National Guard was if almost every area of government was rolled into one organization - tax collection, hospitals, secret police, the army. If you were in it or had a family member or friend in it, you could get away with murder, drug trafficking, etc. They were trained and propped up by the US government, who had military schools dedicated to training anti-communist armies). After landing in the US, many starting planning on how they could re-take control of Nicaragua. Some of them became Cocaine smugglers, utilizing their past experience smuggling Cocaine in the National Guard. A few small organizations formed: the Nicaraguan Democratic Union (UDN), in Miami, Florida, and the Fifteenth of September Legion, in Guatemala. The September Legion was composed of ex-National Guard members who were murderers and thieves for hire. The UDN were anti-Sandinistas in Florida, and would send weapons and other supplies to their armed members in Honduras (the UDN-FARN), mostly using money they got from anti-communist community members (including Miami Cubans). They remained ineffective until Reagan won the 1981 election. Quickly after gaining power, the Reagan government authorized funds for the the CIA to undermine and overthrow the Sandinista government. The CIA had the Argentine government train the Nicaraguan exiles, providing the necessary funds to train them in guerrilla warfare. Still disorganized, the CIA worked to merge the various anti-Sandinista groups, with some resistance due to the UDN not wanting to work with former National Guardsmen in the September Legion. Despite this, they did as the CIA requested, and merged to form the FDN, the Nicaraguan Democratic Force. I'm not overplaying the CIA's impact here. They funded members flights to and from the USA, the room rentals for meetings, and much more. They approved and selected the members to lead the FDN, creating the agreements for UDN-Legion merger. Only 4 months later, Ronald Reagan signed off on a directive to officially support and approve of the FDN's efforts, claiming it was for American national security. The CIA went from trying to organize these groups to running them, which are referred to as the Contras. There was one problem: Reagan only authorized $20 million for the operation, and the CIA needed more. Enrique Bermudez, a former National Guard Colonel who then worked for the CIA, specifically requested to meet with two cocaine dealers in America, Norwin Meneses and Danilo Blandon. Meneses and Brandon had lavish & corrupt millionaire lives in Somozas' Nicaragua, and would gladly wanted it back. Meneses was the head of his cocaine operation, and likely brought hundreds of kilos (if not multiple tons) of cocaine in the US. The CIA knew this, and worked with Meneses to send profits from selling cocaine to the Contras. In addition to financial support for the Contras, Meneses would recruit people and organise support for the Contras in America. He owned multiple businesses in the Los Angeles area, obvious money-laundering fronts. So far I've briefly described only the first 15% of the book. The core of this is the fact that the CIA, to try to overthrow the Sandinista government, organized fascist militias full of murderers, drug dealers, thieves, and who knows who else. They wanted them funded by any means necessary, and they gladly and knowledgeably worked with drug lords in America that provided funds by importing and selling literal tons of cocaine inside the USA. If this isn't already outrageous to you, then feel free to read more. The former Nicaraguan ambassador to Guatemala was smuggling cocaine into the US. They worked with the Argentine dictatorship who slaughtered thousands of people, committing acts of violence such as burying people alive or throwing people out of helicopters. The CIA provided the Contras with a manual called "Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare", which details various suggested actions such as murdering government officials. The leaders of the Contras, controlled by the CIA, met with Ronald Reagan at least once, in approval of their activities. The same government was hypocritically fighting a War on Drugs. There were former US army operatives turned weapons smugglers that had connections with drug smugglers. There were drug ring investigations that ended up with evidence being destroyed and jail sentences of less than 5 years. There were multiple government agencies aside from the CIA (FBI, DEA, to name a few) that knew Meneses was a drug lord but refused to investigate & arrest him or were prevented from doing so. The CIA knowingly worked with and protected various drug lords who would fly plane-loads of cocaine into the USA. They engaged in countless cover ups to deny their activities, often shutting down investigations due to 'national security concerns'. Feel free to read other reviews of this book that detail these things (or the CIA reports and court transcripts themselves, which can be found online). Gary Webb (rest in peace) did an enormous amount of work for this book, and never backed down. Much of his research comes from the horses mouth, good luck denying that. To deny the core argument here and slander Webb instead of investigating the CIA-Contra-Cocaine connection, is trying to re-write history. It's denial - or worse, complicity.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nabilah

    May Gary Webb find peace with God and may his family find justice in this lifetime. May CIA burn to death. May US empire falls apart. In this lifetime.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    Interesting, and incredibly (overwhelmingly) detailed and researched. I never finished it though - he kind of made the same point over and over. It's an issue that's worth understanding though, and I'm glad to have learned about it. Interesting, and incredibly (overwhelmingly) detailed and researched. I never finished it though - he kind of made the same point over and over. It's an issue that's worth understanding though, and I'm glad to have learned about it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emily Pendleton

    I'm sure much of what there is to say about this book has already been said - incredibly thorough, unbiased, groundbreaking investigative reporting. But I almost put this down a few chapters in and I'm glad I didn't - here's why: I listened to the audiobook. Because there are so many players, names, facts, acronyms, dates, etc., and because of the depth of the information, it was incredibly hard to keep up. I felt lost much of the time. For that reason (and because I didn't like the way the voice I'm sure much of what there is to say about this book has already been said - incredibly thorough, unbiased, groundbreaking investigative reporting. But I almost put this down a few chapters in and I'm glad I didn't - here's why: I listened to the audiobook. Because there are so many players, names, facts, acronyms, dates, etc., and because of the depth of the information, it was incredibly hard to keep up. I felt lost much of the time. For that reason (and because I didn't like the way the voice narrator changed tone/accent when quoting, I recommend the physical copy lol). But everything came together in the last few chapters for me, and I couldn't believe I had almost shelved it. In between reading this, I read The Jakarta Method, which helped me understand more of the background of Anti-Communist crusades by the U.S.

  13. 5 out of 5

    John

    In January 1983, police in Los Angeles arrested frogmen bringing 400 pounds of cocaine ashore from a Colombian freighter. But they missed their main target, the drug importer Norwin Meneses, who may have been tipped off by officials. In August 1986, a US Customs informant, Joseph Kelso, told his handlers that Drug Enforcement Administration officials in Costa Rica were sharing profits from Meneses’s LA drug shipments. The Costa Rican police arrested Kelso. In October 1986, police hit the LA home In January 1983, police in Los Angeles arrested frogmen bringing 400 pounds of cocaine ashore from a Colombian freighter. But they missed their main target, the drug importer Norwin Meneses, who may have been tipped off by officials. In August 1986, a US Customs informant, Joseph Kelso, told his handlers that Drug Enforcement Administration officials in Costa Rica were sharing profits from Meneses’s LA drug shipments. The Costa Rican police arrested Kelso. In October 1986, police hit the LA home of Meneses’s business partner, Danilo Blandon. He had only a ‘thimbleful’ of cocaine and was released after a few hours; $850,000 sat unnoticed in a safe at the bottom of his swimming pool (or so Blandon told a DEA informant; he later denied it to the Justice Department). Their main crack distributor, ‘Freeway’ Rick Ross, was arrested the same month, but the case was dropped for lack of evidence. When he eventually went to prison in 1990, Ross served only four years, though he boasted he had been grossing $1 million a day. Blandon and Meneses were Nicaraguans who’d fled to the US from the 1979 Sandinista revolution. They imported drugs into LA and other cities throughout the 1980s. Meneses was eventually caught by a sting in Nicaragua in 1991, involving $15 million worth of drugs. He was sentenced to 30 years in jail but was out by 1997. Blandon was arrested in 1992 in San Diego. The prosecutor argued that the scale of his drug dealing meant his sentence should be ‘off the charts’: life plus a $4 million fine. But he served only two years: he was released and taken onto the DEA payroll as an informant. The ‘frogman’ case gave the first hint of why the two were getting away with drug dealing on a massive scale. One of the defendants petitioned for the return of $36,000 seized as drug money, arguing that it was intended to support the Contras, the rebel army set up by right-wing Nicaraguans with backing from the CIA. The Justice Department handed the money back. Blandon later testified that his first drug deal, in 1981, had been to earn money for the Contras. Meneses recruited him. They started using Freeway Rick’s payments to fund the Contra war. Both worked for Adolfo Calero, the head of the main Contra army, who was paid $12,500 a month by the CIA for several years. Gary Webb, a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, received a tip-off in 1995 that led him to expose the CIA connection to drug dealing. The stories about Meneses and Blandon, and many more, appeared in the paper from August 1996. In October, the Washington Post, LA Times and New York Times all ran stories attacking Webb. They said that the Contra payments involved only thousands of dollars, not millions. They dismissed the connection between the massive drug shipments and the growth of crack use in LA. They quoted CIA sources who denied any involvement with Blandon and Meneses. Succumbing to the pressure, the Mercury News ran an apology for Webb’s stories in May 1997. Later that year, Webb quit. No other paper would take him on. He killed himself in 2004. Enriched by drug trafficking, Meneses and Blandon bought houses and businesses in the US, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Blandon eventually ratted on Freeway Rick and was paid $45,000 in reward. Meneses became a national assembly member under the right-wing governments that ran Nicaragua until 2006. By the time the Contra War ended in 1988, at least 30,000 people had died. The Sandinistas had won their first election in 1984 but, largely because of the war, lost the second in 1990. The Contra footsoldiers, most of them from poor rural families in the mountainous north of Nicaragua, were promised land by the new government, and over the next decade many thousands were relocated on farms abandoned in the revolution. The NGO I work with is helping a dozen ex-Contra families who were given title to an old sugar farm. They have nothing but the land, a shared well (a tube in the ground wide enough to take a small bucket) and houses made of plastic sheets and corrugated iron. Until we installed solar panels, they had no electricity. Our latest project has been a solar-driven pump for the well, supplying an irrigation system for the small patches of farmland. This is all the help they’ve received since they handed in their guns 25 years ago. Kill the Messenger, the film based on Webb’s 1999 book Dark Alliance, is released in the UK today. The Washington Post still thinks Webb was wrong. The New York Times, reviewing the film last year, said that it portrayed a journalist ‘betrayed… by his own calling’. Jesse Katz, one of 17 reporters the LA Times assigned to discredit Webb’s story, came closer to an apology, saying that he’d ruined his career. [The above is my blog about the film, from the London Review of Books: http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2015/03/06/... ]

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nick Anderson

    Here's the thing: Do you rate this off of how convincing you find the case Webb makes here? That's a judgement call; one everyone who reads Dark Alliance will have to make. As a work unto itself; an expansive work of investigative reporting, I can't help but love it. Webb's writing is as driven and intense as you expect if you know anything about the man. The voice comes across as a man on a mission (which he was); near-zealous in its dogged pursuit of every connection available to be made to st Here's the thing: Do you rate this off of how convincing you find the case Webb makes here? That's a judgement call; one everyone who reads Dark Alliance will have to make. As a work unto itself; an expansive work of investigative reporting, I can't help but love it. Webb's writing is as driven and intense as you expect if you know anything about the man. The voice comes across as a man on a mission (which he was); near-zealous in its dogged pursuit of every connection available to be made to stitch its overall case together. Webb's great skill (beyond being a top-notch reporter) was in his ability to transmit vitally important information in the sentence you're reading while also giving the impression that the stuff in the next sentence is EVEN MORE IMPORTANT. Dark Alliance doesn't just rattle off bullet points; it builds. The knocks on Dark Alliance is that its wide scope creates a void into which massive amounts of detail pour in. It is dense, folks. The cast of characters, locations, connections between said characters and locations, and specific events cited can become overwhelming. Dark Alliance isn't for those with a passing interest, nor for those who might expect a definitive, air-tight conclusion. However, if all you know of Iran-Contra is Oliver North and arms-for-hostages and you'd like to learn more about the drug money side, Dark Alliance provides a passionately reported, beyond thorough examination of one of the more shameful episodes in American history.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Patrick McCoy

    I originally saw the film version, Kill the Messenger (2012), on a plane before I read the original source material, Dark Alliance (2011) by Gary Webb-the film made me want to know more about the true story. The book is essentially two stories-the first is the reporting that led Webb to make connections between Nicaraguan drug smugglers who were aided and abetted by the CIA to unloads massive amounts of cocaine in the Los Angles in order to support the anti-communist Contras in the Nicaraguan ci I originally saw the film version, Kill the Messenger (2012), on a plane before I read the original source material, Dark Alliance (2011) by Gary Webb-the film made me want to know more about the true story. The book is essentially two stories-the first is the reporting that led Webb to make connections between Nicaraguan drug smugglers who were aided and abetted by the CIA to unloads massive amounts of cocaine in the Los Angles in order to support the anti-communist Contras in the Nicaraguan civil war. The second story is about how the CIA tried to discredit him and refute the revelations he made in order to avoid looking bad-and it was very bad-causing a generation of destruction among poor, mostly black communities in order to destroy another country due to the administration's dislike of freely elected communist countries. Oliver North was the fall guy, but it was clear high ranking Reagan officials and most likely Reagan, himself, were aware of what was going on and supported the ludicrous idea. It's not forgotten, bu those who were at fault never paid the price they should have for that fiasco-it's pretty upsetting, but there was Clinton and that damned semen stained dress to deal with.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Carlos Cruz

    Being a native born Nicaraguan who left during the war I found this book fascinating and eye opening. Webb tells the story of how he received a telephone call from a woman who's husband was convicted of drug dealing and his property and money were seized by the cops and never returned to him. The author tells the story of his uncovering of the CIA's drug dealing scheme that funded the contra war in Nicaragua from 1979 until about 1991. This book was well researched and is proven with declassifie Being a native born Nicaraguan who left during the war I found this book fascinating and eye opening. Webb tells the story of how he received a telephone call from a woman who's husband was convicted of drug dealing and his property and money were seized by the cops and never returned to him. The author tells the story of his uncovering of the CIA's drug dealing scheme that funded the contra war in Nicaragua from 1979 until about 1991. This book was well researched and is proven with declassified government documents and interviews by the drug smugglers who were given passports to exit and enter the US with past criminal cocaine trafficking charges. It proves how desperate immigrants were given the opportunity to raise money to fund the war against the communist Sandinistas that took over their country. It's sick that the US government looked the other way as they got rich and helped to destroy the lives and communities of black and brown people also helping Freeway Ricky Ross climb to power. They allowed guns, drugs, and gangs to spread all over the country while Reagan declared his "War on drugs". Webb was found dead with 2 gun shots to his head and was called a suicide...

  17. 5 out of 5

    j

    required reading for americans. well documented and reported, this is an utterly damning indictment of the united states intelligence community, including CIA, DEA and FBI, the sham war on drugs, and america's central and south american foreign policy. by the epilogue, when the CIA essentially admits to exactly what webb lost his career asserting was true, i could only break out in laughter. tragically, the author ultimately committed suicide (two gunshot wounds to the head...). the CIA, with th required reading for americans. well documented and reported, this is an utterly damning indictment of the united states intelligence community, including CIA, DEA and FBI, the sham war on drugs, and america's central and south american foreign policy. by the epilogue, when the CIA essentially admits to exactly what webb lost his career asserting was true, i could only break out in laughter. tragically, the author ultimately committed suicide (two gunshot wounds to the head...). the CIA, with the help of the national media, hounded him out of his chosen profession and he paid the ultimate price in the pursuit and exposure of the truth. deeply troubling read that i recommend to one and all, wherever you sit on the political spectrum.

  18. 5 out of 5

    keatssycamore

    Probably as enjoyable & solid as a book from reporting can be. Lifted a notch above enjoyable & solid by the final pages. These pages provide the reader a brief glimpse into how the media (both within Webb's paper and at larger media outlets) responded to the CIA/Contra/Crack connection his reporting revealed. Probably as enjoyable & solid as a book from reporting can be. Lifted a notch above enjoyable & solid by the final pages. These pages provide the reader a brief glimpse into how the media (both within Webb's paper and at larger media outlets) responded to the CIA/Contra/Crack connection his reporting revealed.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sotiris Makrygiannis

    Is like that movie with Tom Cruise that flights covertly to Colombia for CIA. Basically, it says that since drug addiction was a reality, the CIA used it in order to finance the war in Latin American. One could say that drugs create jobs on both sides of the business.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Oihane

    It ended up being harder to read than I had anticipated, but as I advanced through "Dark Alliance" I realized that this sensation was part of what makes this work a must read for any journalist: it's because it's so well documented, so well worked-through, that Gary Webb simply needed to include all the information and details that support the story. Because there's a huge story here, and his journalistic ethic makes it impossible for him to skew a single bit of what he learned. He wanted to prov It ended up being harder to read than I had anticipated, but as I advanced through "Dark Alliance" I realized that this sensation was part of what makes this work a must read for any journalist: it's because it's so well documented, so well worked-through, that Gary Webb simply needed to include all the information and details that support the story. Because there's a huge story here, and his journalistic ethic makes it impossible for him to skew a single bit of what he learned. He wanted to prove every single claim he was making because he believed that the people had the unavoidable right to know and understand what had happened and was happening to their communities - especially black people. I also think he wanted to go full speed (and circle) on this story because he had a faint feeling that he was gonna be in trouble for it... as it ended up happening. Because nobody can possibly believe Gary Webb's real cause of death being suicide. And if it really was suicide, then he was also somehow killed by the ones he tried to fight with truth and information, as we can perceive by the way his life was impacted by the lack of support to his work. "Dark Alliance" is a book that can't be skipped by any journalist who actually likes journalism, and will want to exercise it somehow one day. Between its lines one can grasp the process of creation of a great investigative work, what it really takes to report something, on what happens when you choose to fight for what you believe in. Needless to say, the very story provided here uncovers what is the shame of "civilized" societies: their institutions have rooted themselves so deep in the system that laws just don't apply to them. In this case, a supposedly vital institution is directly responsible of a huge damage created to its own society. And simply, nothing happens. Despite more than sufficient evidence being provided, "they" always walk free, and the rest of institutional powers will constantly cover for them. More of the same old story, this time excellently documented by Gary Webb. I want to paste this quote by him here so I never forget it: “I was winning awards, getting raises, lecturing college classes, appearing on TV shows, and judging journalism contests. And then I wrote some stories that made me realize how sadly misplaced my bliss had been. The reason I'd enjoyed such smooth sailing for so long hadn't been, as I'd assumed, because I was careful and diligent and good at my job. The truth was that, in all those years, I hadn't written anything important enough to suppress.”

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Crack spot: Langley Well-documented history of the main players and the CIA's support--if not complete control--of a massive operation to bring cocaine and crack cocaine to urban America to fund the anti-socialist Contra terror organisation. Astounding. And baffling that the MSM has ignored this YUUUGE story and its repercussions beyond the brief hearings I remember from my youth. This is a true story of systemic racism, the criminal CIA organisation's wide-ranging and deeply damaging meddling in Crack spot: Langley Well-documented history of the main players and the CIA's support--if not complete control--of a massive operation to bring cocaine and crack cocaine to urban America to fund the anti-socialist Contra terror organisation. Astounding. And baffling that the MSM has ignored this YUUUGE story and its repercussions beyond the brief hearings I remember from my youth. This is a true story of systemic racism, the criminal CIA organisation's wide-ranging and deeply damaging meddling in the affairs of Nicaragua and other sovereign states, and the dire, life-destroying impact of these ultimately ineffective spy games on American society.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Blanton

    Remember how 'All the President's Men' cast the reporters as almost characters in a thriller? This does the same thing, but the protagonist is so clearly an insert character that it makes you question the validity of the rest of the story. As someone who wanted to know more about Iran-Contra, this made me feel like I knew less. Remember how 'All the President's Men' cast the reporters as almost characters in a thriller? This does the same thing, but the protagonist is so clearly an insert character that it makes you question the validity of the rest of the story. As someone who wanted to know more about Iran-Contra, this made me feel like I knew less.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cory

    It is a good one

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Boyce

    http://bookreviewsbyme2.wordpress.com... I listened to the audiobook of this book and boy what a fascinating listen this was. I was apprehensive about listening to a nonfiction audiobook, I figured it would be dull and I would have a hard time keeping my interest on the book. I couldn't have been more wrong, this book captivated my attention just like a fiction book would have done; if all nonfiction audiobooks are like this one then I will certainly be listening to more in the near future. This b http://bookreviewsbyme2.wordpress.com... I listened to the audiobook of this book and boy what a fascinating listen this was. I was apprehensive about listening to a nonfiction audiobook, I figured it would be dull and I would have a hard time keeping my interest on the book. I couldn't have been more wrong, this book captivated my attention just like a fiction book would have done; if all nonfiction audiobooks are like this one then I will certainly be listening to more in the near future. This book was extremely exciting. This book didn't read like a typical nonfiction book at all, but rather, read like a fast-paced fiction thriller. The story goes from beginning to end, starting with the beginning of the cocaine "epidemic" in America and ending with the apprehension of the corrupt agents/people. (I would say that's a spoiler alert except you learn right at the beginning what's going to happen.) The author goes into extensive detail throughout the book; there is certainly no shortage of information here. Yet even though there was a ton of information presented in this book, it didn't feel like information overload. The author does a fantastic job of keeping the action up and not letting the storyline get bogged down with ceaseless information. The story itself was fascinating. I've had my head in the sand when it comes to drugs in America; they don't really impact me so I find myself not really caring. This book really brought the cocaine issue to light. The information in this book is fascinating and not something that I knew much about. After reading this book I now feel as if I know a lot about cocaine and the history behind its use and explosion in the United States. The authors writing style was really pleasant. As I mentioned earlier, the author does a fantastic job of keeping the story moving. Along with that, the author does a fantastic job of introducing characters and keeping them straight for the reader. Although many of the names sounded similar to me, the author did a good job of making sure the reader was able to keep a clear picture on who was who. The author also did a fantastic job of using direct quotes throughout the story. It was interesting to hear the perspectives of different people in their own words. And I thought that the author did a really good job of blending quotes seamlessly into the story. The narrator in this book was really exceptional (although I feel like I say that about every narrator). He did a fantastic job with the voices and the accents. It honestly took me a really long time to figure out whether I was listening to actual quotes from the people (in their voices) or whether the narrator was just that good at portraying the voices of different people. I would highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in drug history, in police history, or in fascinating nonfiction books. The author does a fantastic job of portraying the issue in a way that is exciting and informative. I would also recommend the audiobook format of this book, especially if you're looking to get into listening to nonfiction audiobooks.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Valiant Thor

    Gary Webb took two bullets to the back of his head for writing this book. The least you can do is read it. Well written and thoroughly researched with the documents to support it, this book is an essential piece of America's hidden history. Dark Alliance is just as relevant today as ever, given the current 'heroin epidemic', which surely has no relation to the US occupation of the world's opium capital, Afghanistan. Gary Webb took two bullets to the back of his head for writing this book. The least you can do is read it. Well written and thoroughly researched with the documents to support it, this book is an essential piece of America's hidden history. Dark Alliance is just as relevant today as ever, given the current 'heroin epidemic', which surely has no relation to the US occupation of the world's opium capital, Afghanistan.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Stoiph

    What do I do with this information now? I don't know. Like reading up on any type of this kind of thing......... I actually had to take notes while reading Dark Alliance. It is, as one could imagine, pretty dense. For me, it took a lot to stay on the map, but it was worth it. I wanted to read this after watching The American Drug War: The Great White Hope directed by Kevin Booth (and Bill Hick's childhood friend) where this was featured. The book is based off a series off articles written by Gary What do I do with this information now? I don't know. Like reading up on any type of this kind of thing......... I actually had to take notes while reading Dark Alliance. It is, as one could imagine, pretty dense. For me, it took a lot to stay on the map, but it was worth it. I wanted to read this after watching The American Drug War: The Great White Hope directed by Kevin Booth (and Bill Hick's childhood friend) where this was featured. The book is based off a series off articles written by Gary Webb printed in The Mercury Sun linking the CIA-backed anti-communist guerrilla arm(ies) drug-smuggling and the crack-cocaine epidemic of the 80s. By the time he published this book ('98), he no longer worked for the paper. Gary Webb is dead now (apparently a suicide though I read that there were two bullet holes found in his head). Webb states in his book that CIA cocaine smuggling and the crack epidemic was a "happy accident" in that no one could have predicted that the cocaine would turn into crack, per se, but the crux of it all is still fucked nonetheless: that the profits from these drug sales were used to fund CIA-backed wars. I guess I like that this simple statement is there because it dissolves any notion of some grand agenda associated with the book which is what I cringe at when it comes to conspiracy-theory type talk. If that makes sense. It's pretty mind-blowing and fucked to go through this and read about the cover-ups, the set-ups, who is blamed and who is not (the dealers and the suppliers, respectively), how Webb researches the information and comes across other info, how his own story unfolds, etc, eTC, ETC. The media connections! And, I mean Rick Ross was still a drug dealer, but had he not been supplied like he was... The consequences of all this are faaaar greater though and that's what The American Drug War (film) is pretty much about. And the stuff that really interests me. I mean, the Reagan administration declared the War on Drugs during all of this and yeah. Gah. Fucked Up. (Oh yeah, and the entire time I read this I imagined the Bill Hicks bit where he's lamenting about the current political system where it doesn't really matter who's elected into office: after inauguration, whoever is elected is rushed off by men in black suits and taken into a small room and shown a video of the Kennedy assassination and asking, "any questions?")

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tippy

    What I read was pretty good, but a bit too detailed to hold my attention. There was a lot about individuals and their personal connections and the author explains the various accounts of one incident, if there was conflicting opinions on what happened and if available, what his research uncovered that might make one view more likely. It was great investigative reporting and I would feel super confident citing this book. But since I already knew the basics of this scandal, it was rare that I came What I read was pretty good, but a bit too detailed to hold my attention. There was a lot about individuals and their personal connections and the author explains the various accounts of one incident, if there was conflicting opinions on what happened and if available, what his research uncovered that might make one view more likely. It was great investigative reporting and I would feel super confident citing this book. But since I already knew the basics of this scandal, it was rare that I came across something that I didn't already know about the big picture. There were a few gems, though. For example, I didn't know that it was members of the CIA that unified all of the dispersed small organizations to fight against the Sandinistas. Some of these organizations had serious conflicts, but the CIA used bribes and threats to get them to come together. I may pick this up again at some point, but I have so little time and so much to read!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Francis

    I was turned onto this by my conspiracy theorist brother, who has espoused such whacky theories as Don Tysson (chicken) flying in Yeyo on his G5 for distribution to the Little Rock market to GWB blowing up the twin towers to get a television moment. Needless to say I was skeptical... But turns out some of his theories are correct! Gary Webb ruined his life to expose the duplicity of the US government. For the naive of us that believe people will do the right thing, this book paves the way for the I was turned onto this by my conspiracy theorist brother, who has espoused such whacky theories as Don Tysson (chicken) flying in Yeyo on his G5 for distribution to the Little Rock market to GWB blowing up the twin towers to get a television moment. Needless to say I was skeptical... But turns out some of his theories are correct! Gary Webb ruined his life to expose the duplicity of the US government. For the naive of us that believe people will do the right thing, this book paves the way for the dark side. It is also a great Econ 101 book, as it walks through the commercialization of the cocaine trade from small scale recreational party drug in Penthouse apartments to cheap, ubiquitous poison blighting urban ghettos. Webb highlights one felon/entrepreneur named Freeway Ricky that is no doubt the basis for the Nino Brown character of Cash Money Brother fame.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amona

    Government corruption is pervasive! You got political exiles from Nicaragua coming to the states supposedly to raise moneys for their causes, but put on CIA and DEA payroll AND allowed to sell cocaine which of course eventually became crack. Rick Ross just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I totally understand why the fake Rick Ross wanted the Real Rick Ross's name, the guy was captivating kingpin. He dropped out of high school, couldn't read/write but graduated in chemistry, Government corruption is pervasive! You got political exiles from Nicaragua coming to the states supposedly to raise moneys for their causes, but put on CIA and DEA payroll AND allowed to sell cocaine which of course eventually became crack. Rick Ross just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I totally understand why the fake Rick Ross wanted the Real Rick Ross's name, the guy was captivating kingpin. He dropped out of high school, couldn't read/write but graduated in chemistry, mathematics and marketing off a product with discipline and determination. He reminds me of a corrupt version Langston Hughes poem " young, gifted and black". He established a report with the cartels, Crips, Bloods, but still manage to "give back" to the hood. Drugs in the black communities has been no bueno most impart it seems to Reagan and his antics.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dustin

    Not bad. And thorough is an understatement. Depending on what you want to get out of this book, it might be too thorough, as there as so many names and facts crammed into it that keeping it all straight can be a chore. And ultimately, most of it is irrelevant. The core of the story is that the CIA was again involved in exceptionally illegal activities abroad, including being complicit in the crack cocain boom of the early 80's. And all in the grand cold war tradition of defeating communism. If y Not bad. And thorough is an understatement. Depending on what you want to get out of this book, it might be too thorough, as there as so many names and facts crammed into it that keeping it all straight can be a chore. And ultimately, most of it is irrelevant. The core of the story is that the CIA was again involved in exceptionally illegal activities abroad, including being complicit in the crack cocain boom of the early 80's. And all in the grand cold war tradition of defeating communism. If you're familiar with the darker side of U.S. history involving the CIA, none of this will really shock you.

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