59 books like Kings of Cocaine

By Guy Gugliotta,

Here are 59 books that Kings of Cocaine fans have personally recommended if you like Kings of Cocaine. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town

Russell C. Crandall Author Of Drugs and Thugs: The History and Future of America's War on Drugs

From my list on what the war on drugs is really about.

Who am I?

Over my two decades as a scholar of American foreign policy and international politics, I had multiple opportunities to serve as a Latin America foreign policy aide. Given that Latin America plays a central role in the U.S.-hatched modern war on drugs, much of my policymaking was directly or indirectly tied to drug policy. I thus wrote Drugs and Thugs above all to make sure that I had a good sense of the history of this seemingly eternal conflict, one that is “fought” as much at home as abroad. 

Russell's book list on what the war on drugs is really about

Russell C. Crandall Why did Russell love this book?

Reding’s book on the methamphetamine epidemic in small-town Ohio is distressing but essential. He is exceptional in showing rather than telling how meth is in so many ways the Great American Drug. It makes you work even more maniacally, for one. And the hollowing out of Middle America makes the drug’s proactive nature even more attractive in these forgotten towns and cities. It is painful that the meth scourge might have eased but, as is so often the case, other destructive substances have quickly replaced it. 

By Nick Reding,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Methland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize
Winner of the Hillman Prize for Book Journalism

Named a best book of the year by:
the Los Angeles Times
the San Francisco Chronicle
the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch
the Chicago Tribune
the Seattle Times

"A stunning look at a problem that has dire consequences for our country.”-New York Post

The dramatic story of Methamphetamine as it comes to the American Heartland-a timely, moving, account of one community's attempt to confront the epidemic and see their way to a brighter future.

The bestselling book that launched meth back into…


Book cover of Forces of Habit: Drugs and the Making of the Modern World

Russell C. Crandall Author Of Drugs and Thugs: The History and Future of America's War on Drugs

From my list on what the war on drugs is really about.

Who am I?

Over my two decades as a scholar of American foreign policy and international politics, I had multiple opportunities to serve as a Latin America foreign policy aide. Given that Latin America plays a central role in the U.S.-hatched modern war on drugs, much of my policymaking was directly or indirectly tied to drug policy. I thus wrote Drugs and Thugs above all to make sure that I had a good sense of the history of this seemingly eternal conflict, one that is “fought” as much at home as abroad. 

Russell's book list on what the war on drugs is really about

Russell C. Crandall Why did Russell love this book?

Forces of Habit is unbelievably wise and well-written, a tour of force on the drugs-especially illicit ones—can be what they are today. Courtwright looks at the supposedly hard drugs—marijuana, cocaine, and heroin—but also the soft ones—alcohol, nicotine, and even caffeine. I love that he forces all of us to consider how arbitrary the line is between illicit and legal, often depending on current social norms. 

By David T. Courtwright,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Forces of Habit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What drives the drug trade, and how has it come to be what it is today? A global history of the acquisition of progressively more potent means of altering ordinary waking consciousness, this book is the first to provide the big picture of the discovery, interchange, and exploitation of the planet's psychoactive resources, from tea and kola to opiates and amphetamines.


Book cover of El Narco: Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency

Russell C. Crandall Author Of Drugs and Thugs: The History and Future of America's War on Drugs

From my list on what the war on drugs is really about.

Who am I?

Over my two decades as a scholar of American foreign policy and international politics, I had multiple opportunities to serve as a Latin America foreign policy aide. Given that Latin America plays a central role in the U.S.-hatched modern war on drugs, much of my policymaking was directly or indirectly tied to drug policy. I thus wrote Drugs and Thugs above all to make sure that I had a good sense of the history of this seemingly eternal conflict, one that is “fought” as much at home as abroad. 

Russell's book list on what the war on drugs is really about

Russell C. Crandall Why did Russell love this book?

A work of intrepid journalism and sizzling writing, Grillo’s El Narco is the result of upwards of a decade following the mercurial, terrifying evolution of Mexico’s drug cartels. I’ve taught this book to my Davidson College students studying Latin American politics and they repeatedly tell me that it is their favorite book they tackle in the course. 

By Ioan Grillo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked El Narco as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'War' is no exaggeration in discussing the bloodshed that has terrorized Mexico in the past decades. As rival cartels battle for control of a billion-dollar drug trade, the body count- 23,000 dead in five years - and sheer horror beggar the imagination of journalistic witnesses. Cartel gunmen have shot up schools and rehabilitation centers, and murdered the entire families of those who defy them. Reformers and law enforcement officials have been gunned down within hours of taking office. Headless corpses are dumped on streets to intimidate rivals, and severed heads are rolled onto dancefloors as messages to would-be opponents. And…


Book cover of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs

Russell C. Crandall Author Of Drugs and Thugs: The History and Future of America's War on Drugs

From my list on what the war on drugs is really about.

Who am I?

Over my two decades as a scholar of American foreign policy and international politics, I had multiple opportunities to serve as a Latin America foreign policy aide. Given that Latin America plays a central role in the U.S.-hatched modern war on drugs, much of my policymaking was directly or indirectly tied to drug policy. I thus wrote Drugs and Thugs above all to make sure that I had a good sense of the history of this seemingly eternal conflict, one that is “fought” as much at home as abroad. 

Russell's book list on what the war on drugs is really about

Russell C. Crandall Why did Russell love this book?

Hari’s Chasing the Scream is not an exhaustively researched book but it still merits listing given how viscerally the author addresses the history of the global war on drugs in the light of his own personal addiction. Hari shines in his depiction of circa 1930s U.S. Drug Cop #1, Henry J. Anslinger, who, among other dubious endeavors, sought to throw the book at jazz singer Billie Holiday, who also happened to be a heroin addict.  

By Johann Hari,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Chasing the Scream as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times Bestseller

What if everything you think you know about addiction is wrong? Johann Hari's journey into the heart of the war on drugs led him to ask this question--and to write the book that gave rise to his viral TED talk, viewed more than 62 million times, and inspired the feature film The United States vs. Billie Holiday and the documentary series The Fix.

One of Johann Hari's earliest memories is of trying to wake up one of his relatives and not being able to. As he grew older, he realized he had addiction in his…


Book cover of Marijuana Boom: The Rise and Fall of Colombia's First Drug Paradise

Chris S. Duvall Author Of The African Roots of Marijuana

From my list on the history of cannabis.

Who am I?

I study people-plant relationships from perspectives including ecology, history, cultural studies, and biogeography. Cannabis is certainly the most famous plant I’ve studied. A decade ago I was researching how Africans used an obscure tree in historical Central America, and came across accounts of cannabis use that surprised me. As I dug into cannabis history, I was continually amazed at how little the topic has been researched. It’s a great time to start learning about the plant’s past, because it’s a fresh, new field for professional academics. Cannabis has been portrayed so simplistically for decades, but in reality it’s a complex plant with a complicated history.

Chris' book list on the history of cannabis

Chris S. Duvall Why did Chris love this book?

The association between Colombia and cocaine is strong in popular culture, but the cocaine economy rose upon the country’s experience with marijuana production and trafficking starting in the 1970s. Britto completed remarkable research, on the ground with people who were involved in marijuana trading. This is one of a few books that offer such a window into the illegal world of cannabis.

By Lina Britto,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Marijuana Boom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Before Colombia became one of the world's largest producers of cocaine in the 1980s, traffickers from the Caribbean coast partnered with American buyers in the 1970s to make the South American country the main supplier of marijuana for a booming US drug market, fueled by the US hippie counterculture. How did Colombia become central to the creation of an international drug trafficking circuit? Marijuana Boom is the story of this forgotten history. Combining deep archival research with unprecedented oral history, Lina Britto deciphers a puzzle: Why did the Colombian coffee republic, a model of Latin American representative democracy and economic…


Book cover of When Crack Was King: A People's History of a Misunderstood Era

Jonathan Conyers Author Of I Wasn't Supposed to Be Here: Finding My Voice, Finding My People, Finding My Way

From my list on helping to shape your view of the world and yourself.

Who am I?

I've always had a passion for reading deep personal stories that provide me with a better understanding of the world and equip me with the tools and life lessons I need to continue growing as a person. I believe that storytelling's vulnerability is one of the most powerful instruments for self-reflection, self-healing, and ultimately, for us to evolve into better versions of ourselves through introspection.

Jonathan's book list on helping to shape your view of the world and yourself

Jonathan Conyers Why did Jonathan love this book?

Growing up in a household where both of my parents battled crack addiction was extremely difficult. It caused deep-seated feelings of resentment, anger, and a profound lack of trust in both my parents and society as a whole. Not being able to rely on my parents, and witnessing them consistently choose drugs over their family, was incredibly painful, especially for a child.

Reading this book brought me closer to my parents and helped me understand that their addiction was just a symptom of a much larger issue that extended beyond our home. I found a connection with characters like Elgin Swift and delving into the crack epidemic during the time my parents were growing up was truly eye-opening.

This experience allowed me to feel a deeper bond with my parents and gain a better understanding of their struggles. 

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has loved ones facing…

By Donovan X. Ramsey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Crack Was King as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A “vivid and frank” (NPR) account of the crack cocaine era and a community’s ultimate resilience, told through a cast of characters whose lives illuminate the dramatic rise and fall of the epidemic
 
“A poignant and compelling re-examination of a tragic era in America history . . . insightful . . . and deeply moving.”—Bryan Stevenson, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Just Mercy

The crack epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s is arguably the least examined crisis in American history. Beginning with the myths inspired by Reagan’s war on drugs, journalist Donovan X. Ramsey’s exacting analysis traces…


Book cover of Poppies, Politics, and Power: Afghanistan and the Global History of Drugs and Diplomacy

Phil Halton Author Of Blood Washing Blood: Afghanistan's Hundred-Year War

From my list on the War in Afghanistan.

Who am I?

Phil Halton has worked in conflict zones around the world as an officer in the Canadian Army and as a security consultant and has extensive experience in Afghanistan. He is the author of two novels and a history. He holds a Master's Degree in Defence Studies from Royal Military College of Canada, and a Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Humber College. 

Phil's book list on the War in Afghanistan

Phil Halton Why did Phil love this book?

Drug trafficking has become entwined with Afghanistan in the minds of many, though the true situation is often misunderstood. Bradford’s meticulous research not only clearly explains the present situation, it places it in the broader historical context that is almost always missing. The legal trade in opium has deep roots in Afghanistan, and even in the present day, there are as many senior government officials benefiting from it as there are insurgent leaders. He also explores the growing problem with addiction that plagues Afghanistan, humanizing a complex problem.

By James Tharin Bradford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Poppies, Politics, and Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Historians have long neglected Afghanistan's broader history when portraying the opium industry. But in Poppies, Politics, and Power, James Tharin Bradford rebalances the discourse, showing that it is not the past forty years of lawlessness that makes the opium industry what it is, but the sheer breadth of the twentieth-century Afghanistan experience. Rather than byproducts of a failed contemporary system, argues Bradford, drugs, especially opium, were critical components in the formation and failure of the Afghan state.

In this history of drugs and drug control in Afghanistan, Bradford shows us how the country moved from licit supply of the global…


Book cover of Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah and Tahira Rehmatullah Author Of Waiting to Inhale: Cannabis Legalization and the Fight for Racial Justice

From my list on social justice and the need for transformative change.

Who are we?

As a duo, we’re a mix of things. For Akwasi, I’m a changemaker, professor, and academic. My work examines the intersections of race, crime, and criminal justice, and my current research spans criminal justice institutions and various aspects of drug legalization in Canada and beyond. For Tahira, my career has been less than linear, with experiences spanning the investment, cannabis, and consumer sectors as an investor and entrepreneur. I realized my forte lies in sitting in the middle, streamlining complexity, and remaining dedicated to the people who need help most. Together, we’re committed to shaping the future of business and policy by integrating diverse perspectives and lived experiences.

Akwasi and Tahira's book list on social justice and the need for transformative change

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah and Tahira Rehmatullah Why did Akwasi and Tahira love this book?

We’re drawn to books that tell real stories to help personify topics, and Dan’s book does just that. We thought it was gripping and intense, with great lines that we returned to highlight.

Although it was written in the 90s, the message still resonates, as well as the realization that the fights are long and hard but worth it.

By Dan Baum,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Smoke and Mirrors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For sheer government absurdity, the War on Drugs is hard to beat. After three decades of increasingly punitive policies, illicit drugs are more easily available, drug potencies are greater, drug killings are more common, and drug barons are richer than ever. The War on Drugs costs Washington more than the Commerce, Interior, and State departments combined - and it's the one budget item whose growth is never questioned. A strangled court system, exploding prisons, and wasted lives push the cost beyond measure. What began as a flourish of campaign rhetoric in 1968 has grown into a monster. And while nobody…


Book cover of Drugs, Guns & Lies: My life as an undercover cop

Sandi Logan Author Of Betrayed: The incredible untold inside story of the two most unlikely drug-running grannies in Australian history

From my list on life’s adventures featuring crime, drugs, and travel.

Who am I?

I learned from a young age to question everything. The law always interested me, but I was an impatient high school graduate who instead completed a journalism cadetship in Sydney, Australia. I always loved police reporting and the ability to get inside the ‘real’ story where few others could. There is a certain pleasure observing the lives of (witting or unwitting) criminals and an element of “there by the grace…” too! I’ve always empathised with the underdog and the Drug Grannies were indeed just that. I believed there was more to their story. Earning their trust was important. I threw myself into their fight – more an activist than a journalist!

Sandi's book list on life’s adventures featuring crime, drugs, and travel

Sandi Logan Why did Sandi love this book?

This is an outstanding inside look that goes well, well beyond the typical “whistleblower”-type tomes.

Keith Banks was a copper for 20 years in one of Australia’s most corrupt police organisations – the Queensland Police Force. During the 1980s, he let his hair grow, then down, and went undercover as a drug cop. As Banks says: “Undercover was like guerrilla warfare; to understand your enemy, you had to walk amongst them, to become them.”

Some of the decisions he had to make about allowing drugs – including heroin – get onto the street, and into the arms of kids barely into their teens in order to track down the major suppliers, are heartbreaking. This has to be one of the best Australian true crime/memoirs in many decades.

By Keith Banks, Ben Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Drugs, Guns & Lies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Banks has told his story in a raw and honest autobiography. It is the best true crime book published in Australia in a decade.' -John Silvester, Crime Reporter for The Age

Undercover was like guerrilla warfare; to understand your enemy, you had to walk amongst them, to become them. The trick was to keep an eye on that important line between who you were and who you were pretending to be.

This is the true story of Keith Banks, one of Queensland's most decorated police officers, and his journey into the world of drugs as an undercover operative in the…


Book cover of Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel

Marcus Sedgwick Author Of Saint Death

From my list on the USA / Mexico border, drug cartels, and misery.

Who am I?

I became passionate about the Mexico/US border question after meeting someone who is now a close friend, a Mexican academic who introduced me to some of the issues. She helped me write Saint Death as a way to explore the politics of ultra-capitalism, in the form of multinational business, and the action of drug cartels.

Marcus' book list on the USA / Mexico border, drug cartels, and misery

Marcus Sedgwick Why did Marcus love this book?

For a closer look at the way drug cartels work, Wainwright suggests we need to think of them in terms of big business, for that is what, underneath the extreme violence and horror, they are.

By Tom Wainwright,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Narconomics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What drug lords learned from big businessHow does a budding cartel boss succeed (and survive) in the 300 billion illegal drug business? By learning from the best, of course. From creating brand value to fine-tuning customer service, the folks running cartels have been attentive students of the strategy and tactics used by corporations such as Walmart, McDonald's, and Coca-Cola. And what can government learn to combat this scourge? By analyzing the cartels as companies, law enforcers might better understand how they work,and stop throwing away 100 billion a year in a futile effort to win the war" against this global,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the war on drugs, Colombia, and cocaine?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the war on drugs, Colombia, and cocaine.

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