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On February 13, 2003, a plane carrying three American military contractors crash-landed in the jungle-covered mountains of Colombia. Within minutes, FARC guerrillas swarmed the wreckage and killed the American pilot and a Colombian crew member, then marched the survivorsMarc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Thomas Howesat gunpoint into the rain forest. The Colombian government sent 147 soldiers to rescue the Americans. The troops spent weeks subsisting on monkey meat and Amazon rodents as they chased the guerrillas deeper into the jungle. But then a soldier on a bathroom break stuck his machete into the ground and pulled out 20 million pesospart of a buried rebel cache of $20 millionand the game suddenly changed.
Veteran journalist John Otis places the Colombian hostage story in its full context, exploring the inner workings of the FARC, the U.S.-backed war on drugs, and Colombia's efforts to free the rebel-held prisoners. Law of the Jungle is an edge-of-your-seat adventure and a shocking cautionary tale about the pursuit of fortune in one of the world's most dangerous places.
“Amazing...Mesmerizing....[John] Otis has assembled a yarn that would make a magical realist blush, complete with outlandish characters, tragicomic twists of fate, and far-flung deeds of derring-do.... Riveting.”
-New York Post
“Law of the Jungle is a well-reported, highly informative account of the chase, which was undertaken largely by the Colombian army....[A] thriller-opera of a story....Otis’s story rises beyond ordinary reporting: He manages to condense recent Colombian history into a clear, digestible narrative.”
“Gripping and funny...[Otis] tells an amazing story in his first book....Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell were finally freed during the summer of 2008, and Otis tells their story in the sort of rich detail you’d expect of an experienced print journalist.”
-Minneapolis Star Tribune
“With its Conradian atmosphere of jungle-induced madness and an immediacy stemmingfrom interviews with many of the participants, this will engage all...”
“An impossible-to-put-down read with as many twists and turns as a summer blockbuster.... Otis, a journalist who has worked in Latin America for more than 20 years, skillfully weaves this incredible tale of attempted—and eventually successful—rescue by Colombian soldiers....Fascinating.”
-Very Short List
“Has the feel of a John Huston movie, with its mix of tragedy, intrigue, black comedy and, ultimately, heroism....fascinating.