Review: Blood, Gun, Money – How America Arms Gangs and Cartels – by Ioan Grillo

This is the third Grillo installment that I have tackled and Ioan is an author who is a gritty investigative journalist who tends to put himself into quite dangerous situations in order to explore very controversial and often violent global subjects. Following on from Grillo’s groundbreaking work on Mexican cartels, this book, which explores the Arms trade, begins with a flashbang as the author witnesses part of Joaquin Loera Guzman’s trial in New York City. El Chapo, extradited from Mexico and alleged head of the Sinaloa Cartel has to try explain away the RPG rocket launchers and weapons caches that are produced as evidence in front of the judge. This is a great example of how (mainly) US weapons are falling into the hands of foreign armies or cartels. The book follows a trail of foreign arms manufacturers in for example Eastern Europe and explores in detail the US Arms trade and its often uncomfortable politics. The US Constitution empowers the right to bear arms for citizens and strong bodies such as the NRA are strong political lobbyists in ensuring that this right continues into the modern age no matter how many mass shootings or proven deaths these lethal weapons can produce. To a reader from the United Kingdom were gun law is strict very often some of the book’s revelations can be quite eyeopening and shocking. It’s an alien culture really to what I would consider civilised society. Grillo makes an interesting point, however, that when he lived in London for a period, the high and often fatal rates of London’s knife crime made it perhaps more unsafe than a US City with high gun crime. The hospital emergency rooms can be just as bloody. The book neatly follows the arms trail and explores some of the major players involved and there is a lot of focus on the porous US-Mexico border where often large quantities of drugs are swapped directly for large quantities of US-made weapons. In an ideal modern world humans wouldn’t have to still go around killing each other but the Arms trade looks here to stay and I feel that this book successfully portrays it and demands of the reader some quite difficult questions regarding the whole ethical dilemma future generations face. It’s a page-turner and a thrilling ride of a read. Five stars.

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