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Reading: Dan Slater

David Locke Hall
 
Dan Slater in conversation with David Samuels

Wolf Boys: Two American Teenagers and Mexico's Most Dangerous Drug Cartel

Tuesday, September 20 at 7:00pm
The story of two American teens recruited as killers for a Mexican cartel, and their pursuit by a Mexican-American detective who realizes the War on Drugs is unwinnable.

What’s it like to be an employee of a global drug-trafficking organization? And how does a fifteen-year-old American boy go from star quarterback to trained assassin, surging up the cartel corporate ladder?

At first glance, Gabriel Cardona is the poster boy American teenager: great athlete, bright, handsome, and charismatic. But the streets of his border town of Laredo, Texas, are poor and dangerous, and it isn’t long before Gabriel abandons his promising future for the allure of the Zetas, a drug cartel with roots in the Mexican military. His younger friend Bart, as well as others from Gabriel’s childhood, join him in working for the Zetas, boosting cars and smuggling drugs, eventually catching the eye of the cartel’s leadership.

Meanwhile, Mexican-born Detective Robert Garcia has worked hard all his life and is now struggling to raise his family in America. As violence spills over the border, Detective Garcia’s pursuit of the boys, and their cartel leaders, puts him face to face with the urgent consequences of a war he sees as unwinnable.

In Wolf Boys Dan Slater shares their stories, taking us from the Sierra Madre mountaintops to the dusty, dark alleys of Laredo, Texas, on a harrowing, often brutal journey into the heart of the Mexican drug trade. Gabriel’s evolution from good-natured teenager into a feared assassin is as inevitable as Garcia’s slow realization of the futile nature of his work. A nonfiction thriller, Wolf Boys depicts more than just Gabriel, Bart, and the officers who took them down. It shows, through vivid detail and rich, often moving, narrative, the way in which the border itself is changing, disappearing, and posing new, terrifying, and yet largely unseen threats to American security. Ultimately though, Wolf Boys is the intimate story of the “lobos” themselves: boys turned into pawns for cartels. Their stories show how poverty, ideas about identity, and government ignorance have warped the definition of the American dream.

"The truth is stranger than fiction and sometimes it's much more harrowing. Wolf Boys is one of those times. Dan Slater has put together a riveting story that takes us on an unforgettable descent into the dark heart of the drug trade."—Michael Connelly

"Wolf Boys is a rare book that reads like a thriller without aiming to be one. What Dan Slater does intend for it to be—and what he powerfully succeeds in creating—is an intimate, horrifying journey through a war we know is close and intractable, a war we willfully ignore with the faith that a river and a wall keeps its brutality at bay. With courageous detail and unforgettable characters, Slater will bring you not only to refute such faith, but to feel for the marginalized Americans on both sides of the conflict.”—Jeff Hobbs, author of The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

“Wolf Boys should be required reading, especially for anyone who supports the blood-chilling, appalling trade in illegal drugs.”—Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club

“Wolf Boys reads like a fictional thriller reminiscent of Brian De Palma’s Scarface, but depicts actual events. If anyone needs proof that we’re losing the war against drug cartels, here it is. Shocking. Eye-opening. A portrait of the evil that stalks our streets.”—David Morrell, author of Murder as a Fine Art

"An extraordinary true story that reads like a thriller. Dan Slater’s incredible research illuminates the terrifying descent of two American boys who could be any of our sons. Wolf Boys is not just a page-turner, but a riveting cautionary tale sure to spark national debate about parenting, the war on drugs, and the tenuous future of the American Dream."—Allison Leotta, author of The Last Good Girl

A former reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Dan Slater has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, New York magazine, The Atlantic, GQ, and Fast Company. He is the author of Love in the Time of Algorithms. A graduate of Colgate University and Brooklyn Law School, he lives in New England. 


David Samuels is the author of The Runner and Only Love Can Break Your Heart. His articles about con men, imposters, dog tracks, nuclear weapons, spies, blimp pilots, rock stars, pot dealers, Presidents, and other subjects appear in Harper's, The New Yorker, N+1 and the The New York Times Magazine.
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