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Publisher Description

The true story of an English drug-smuggler, a notorious Bolivian prison and enough cocaine to cover the Andes ...

"A unique window on a bizarre and corrupt world" Publishers Weekly

"Travel literature of a very special and captivating kind" Booklist

Rusty Young, a twenty-something Australian law graduate, was backpacking in South America when he heard about Thomas McFadden, an English drug trafficker who ran tours inside Bolivia's notorious San Pedro prison. When Rusty met Thomas, they formed a surprising yet instant friendship and then became partners in an attempt to record Thomas's experiences in the jail. The result is one of the most compelling prison stories of all time.

Marching Powder is a shocking, sometimes darkly comic account of life in San Pedro. In this bizarre prison, inmates are expected to buy their cells from real estate agents. Others run shops and restaurants, and women and children live with imprisoned family members. Violence and crime are never far away, and the jail contains some of Bolivia's busiest cocaine laboratories. In San Pedro, cocaine makes life bearable - even the prison cat is addicted to crack.

Yet amid, the corruption, brutality and the daily struggle for survival, Marching Powder is also the tale of an unlikely friendship, forged in the oddest of circumstances, between a drug smuggler and a lawyer. It is the story of one of the strangest places on earth, where horror is leavened by humour and where cruelty lives side by side with compassion.

Biographies & Memoirs
10 November
Pan Macmillan Australia
Macmillan Publishers Australia and Pan Macmillan Australia

Customer Reviews

Donfizzle ,


I should have been asleep hours ago, and I have never submitted on online review of anything before, but here I am at 2.13am feeling compelled to tell you that YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK!

Mamikki ,


Best book ever!

Bolivian traveller ,

Been There

I visited this prison in 2002. I didn't read the book til afterwards. Just as well. The book is very real. Bolivia is amazing! Don't let the book put you off going there! I think I heard rumor they stopped foreigners entering the prison after this book generated so much publicity 10 years ago!

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