Marching Powder

Marching Powder

Paperback

By (author) Rusty Young

List price $17.17

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  • Publisher: Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 136mm x 204mm x 32mm | 458g
  • Publication date: 1 August 2003
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 028307373X
  • ISBN 13: 9780283073731

Product description

This is the story of Thomas McFadden, a small-time English drug smuggler who was arrested in Bolivia and thrown inside the notorious San Pedro prison. He found himself in a bizarre world, the prison reflecting all that is wrong with South American society. Prisoners have to pay an entrance fee and buy their own cells (the alternative is to sleep outside and die of exposure), prisoners' wives and children often live inside too, high-quality cocaine is manufactured and sold from the prison, and all the police from the governor downwards can be bribed. Under the surface is a frightening level of violence - Thomas's life was often in danger and one of his friends was murdered by the police when he threatened to expose the corruption in the prison. Thomas ended up making a living by giving backpackers tours of the prison - he became a fixture on the backpacking circuit and was named in the Lonely Planet guide to Bolivia. When he was told that for a bribe of $5000 his sentence could be overturned, it was the many backpackers who'd passed through who sent him the money.

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Author information

Rusty Young is an Australian lawyer who met Thomas McFadden on a tour of San Pedro. He was so impressed by him that he stayed there (voluntarily) for three months in order to write his story. Thomas McFadden is now a free man, teaching English in Colombia.

Review quote

Thomas McFadden was a minor drugs dealer in Bolivia who was summarily arrested and thrown into jail, the notorious San Pedro Prison. Within the grim walls of the corrupt institution, he discovered a world which mirrored many of the wrongs of South American society at large: bribery, drugs, intimidation and violence at every level. McFadden needed to raise $5,000 to get released and how he managed this - for instance, by giving backpackers tours of the prison - is much of the story. Inevitably, Marching Powder recalls the nightmarish world of Midnight Express, but is sufficiently different in its own right to remain compelling. Young's account was written partly during a three-month stay with the unfortunate McFadden and reeks of authenticity. Not for the faint-hearted, perhaps, but those who enjoyed Killing Pablo may see this often surreal history as some sort of follow- up and it should do well.