Review: At The Devil’s Table – Inside the Fall of the Cali Cartel – the World’s Biggest Crime Syndicate – by William C. Rempel

at the devils table

Jorge Salcedo signed up to the Cali cartel in order to lead a mission to assassinate Pablo Escobar, head of the rival Medellín cartel and, in Jorge’s eyes, a clear and present danger to the people of Colombia. This ex Colombian army professional was a security expert and although the initial mission, with the aid of British mercenaries, was to fail, Jorge embarked on a flourishing career with his Cali cartel bosses, one that would end in betrayal and the fall of the biggest crime syndicate on the planet. Miguel and Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela were the brothers at the head of the Cali cartel and Jorge would become part of their inner circle, as a trusted almost family member, in charge of Miguel’s day-to-day security and all the cartel business that that entailed. He would witness the trafficking operation that flooded the US market with Cocaine and would bear party to the intense violence that accompanied his boss’ position, gradually becoming an integral part of all operations. From learning how the sicarios operated, to engaging overseas in Nicaragua and the USA, to witnessing assassinations, Jorge would build up an essential insider’s knowledge of the cartel’s overall business. However, as time wore on, and it became clear that there would be no easy exit for him from the cartel, Jorge became disillusioned and ultimately sought to betray his boss. Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela became the most wanted criminal on the planet and when Jorge fell into the arms of the DEA, his knowledge of daily operations assisted the US and Colombian authorities in tracking down and successfully capturing the head of the syndicate. Jorge and his family fled into protective custody and the Cali cartel was permanently weakened by the ‘chopping off of the head’. This book, well researched clandestinely for over a decade, tells a bloodthirsty true tale of top level narco-trafficking, political corruption, and gang warfare. It is a true page-turner that will engage and grip you from start to finish.


Review: The Will to Survive. A History of Hungary

The Will to Survive. A History of Hungary
The Will to Survive. A History of Hungary by Bryan Cartledge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a daunting book in terms of size yet at the conclusion of it, I feel its in depth detail and full historical coverage make it a definitive volume of those interested in the country of Hungary and its environs. I travelled through Hungary in 2005 and spent some tie in Budapest and was quite surprised by the capital’s affluent nature despite it being my first glimpse behind the Iron Curtain. The author was a British ambassador to Hungary in the early 1980s, at the dawn of the modern political era. If I had any criticism of this work it is that it sometimes gets a little overbearing politically with less emphasis on general history. I found the ancient history amazing and was fully intrigued by the Habsburg monarchy. The twentieth century brought a new angle on both World Wars and the subsequent peaces. I was surprised at the impact Trianon has on Hungary and the key revolution in 1956 exposed some of the feelings of true life behind the Iron Curtain. I think that Hungary’s history as a central European nation has been troubled due to its geography yet the continuation of the Hungarian people and language demonstrates that this struggle has succeeded. I feel that Hungary invokes romantic notions in how it is generally perceived in the West. That is despite, allying itself with the losing side in both World Wars, its location on the Danube at where East meets West, means that it has a unique position in terms of world heritage. After reading this book I feel more enlightened about Eastern Europe and feel that I would like to further my study on the region by visiting it once more.

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Review: The Holy Kingdom

The Holy Kingdom
The Holy Kingdom by Adrian G. Gilbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As an inhabitant of South Wales with a fascination of local history, I found this book truly enlightening. I was aware of the links King Arthur had with local places such as Caerleon and I found that this book built well on the histories I had already heard. To learn about the suppression of British history at various times and how our Roman-centric history is currently favoured was truly a shock. It was nice to see how Gilbert linked up with two serious scholars of early British history and the story that was presented is quite believable and realistic, if at times it sometimes could be found guilty of over-reaching conclusions, perhaps being over-dramatic. I’ve read other books by Adrian Gilbert and enjoy his style and he always covers interesting topics. The whole story of Arthur is fascinating and has intrigued me to study the legends more. I think the conclusions were a little weak, and find the Joseph of Arimethea links with Britain a little too speculative. It’s a great book and is one that I will be sharing with other friends interested in Welsh history.

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