Gangster Warlords by Ioan Grillo – Book Review

Gangster Warlords by Ioan Grillo. Kindle cover image.

Gangster Warlords by Ioan Grillo is not a book for the faint of heart. It is violent, brutal, horrifying, gruesome, and terrifyingly real. Ioan Grillo embarked on a journey from the slums of the favelas in Brazil to the ostentatious tombs of Mexican kingpins.

Each gang had its own unique reason for existing, but they all shared one common trait . . . brutality.

I stumbled upon Ioan Grillo’s work after an appearance on the Joe Rogan podcast. He told stories of interviewing murderers, dealers, psychopaths, and gangster warlords. The stories he told were hard to listen to and even harder to believe.

I did not purchase his book out of morbid curiosity. As someone who writes about female superheroes, I wanted to have a greater understanding of how criminal enterprises worked.

Unfortunately, after reading Gangster Warlords, I learned more than I wanted to know.

Gangster Warlords gives you an in-depth look on the birth and administration of an international gang. Grillo tells stories of a boy whose father was murdered at the hands of a street gang. The boy then joins a rival crew so that he could get revenge on the gang that killed his father. That boy then discovers a love of killing and becomes the top hitman for what is now known as MS-13.

In Jamaica, the citizens regard their gangster warlords as defenders of the poor.

King Dudus, the President, Jim Brown, these men were adored by their community. They brought food to the slums and kept the hungry satiated, all while defying the government. At the same time, these same men were responsible for the thousands of dead bodies that littered the streets.

Brazil is home to the Red Commando. In Gangster Warlords, Grillo interviews the founder of the gang and discovers how political prisoners imprisoned with gang members, led to the formation of the most powerful gang in Brazil. With their political upbringing, the Red Command create their own rule book which citizens in the ghetto must abide by.

If you steal, rape, or hurt from your fellow slum dweller, the Red Commando will brutally punish you. But when the Red Commando do the same, their actions are ignored.

The last destination in Gangster Warlords is Mexico. Here, Grillo details how a megalomaniacal gang leader transformed himself into a religious icon. He documented how the leader professed to exact religious justice on the unjust while ordering the execution of a small business owner in the same sentence. Grillo also explains what happens when the citizens revolt against the cartel and form their own vigilante militia.

Spoilers, it doesn’t end well for anyone involved. Without judicial systems in place, the cycle of corruption and violence continues anew. The heroes live long enough to see themselves become villains.

After reading this book, I found myself wondering how my fellow Americans choose not to take pity on migrants. They are literally trying to escape genocide and we are content with ignoring it. I can only imagine what the build a wall supporters would do if the roles were reversed.

I don’t like to get political in my reviews, but it’s impossible not to after reading Gangster Warlords. Ioan Grillo has done a masterful job of taking you into a world ruled by kingpins and business savvy murderers.

He shows you how hunger, poverty, and violence, can turn an innocent teenager into a greedy psychopath.

I cannot see how anyone can read this book for pure enjoyment. If it were fiction, this book would be considered the most brutal story of all time. However, in terms of research, Gangster Warlords is an excellent introduction to the world of gangster crime. I think this book is a must-read for people who don’t understand why migrants are drowning themselves in the Rio Grande.

If it wasn’t for fear of execution, none of these foreigners would be leaving their country.

My one criticism of Gangster Warlords is that the book felt long. This is ironic because the chapters are deceptively short and move at a brisk pace. But the amount of content and detail in the events that transpired made it feel as if I was reading The Stand from Stephen King. It wasn’t bad, but it was exhausting.

Minor nitpick aside, I have to give Gangster Warlords by Ioan Grillo . . .

5 Stars.

Related Articles

A Bitter Winter – The Silver Ninja [Vol. 1]

A Bitter Winter – The Silver Ninja [Vol. 1]

$14.99 [Paperback] | $26.00 [Hardcover]eBook: $2.99
Series: The Silver Ninja, Book 1
Genres: Action Adventure, Contemporary Fantasy, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Superheroes
Publisher: Silver Pencil Books
Publication Year: 2018
Format: Paperback | E-Book | Hardcover
Length: Novel
ISBN: 9781732221307

*This book is temporarily exclusive to Kindle Unlimited and KDP Select*

A disgraced cop takes matters into her own hands when the murderer who killed her partner comes after her family. To stop him, Cindy Ames fuses with a prototype suit and transforms herself into a superhero.

But the suit has a mind of its own and is determined to execute its hidden agenda.

The puppet has become the master, and the hero has become the monster.

Super powers can save a city but break a hero.

A Bitter Winter is book 1 of The Silver Ninja series.

Buy now!
About the Book
The ultimate weapon is a woman with a vengeance. In this action packed superhero fantasy, the powerless becomes the powerful. As the Manhattan snow fell on her shoulders, Cindy Ames stared in disbelief at her bloodstained hands. Her fingers ached from violence. All she wanted was revenge for what happened to her sister. She stole a prototype suit and absorbed its incredible power. With it, she tore through criminals and terrorists in search for the killer who ruined her life. But something went horribly wrong. The red liquid pooling in her hands didn’t belong to her or the criminals. The suit has taken control of her mind and is using her body to fulfill its own purposes. The puppet has become the master, and the hero has become the monster. Can she regain control before she takes another innocent life? “It’s refreshing to read about a character (especially a female superhero), who isn’t perfect and has actual problems she must overcome.” – Kitiera Morey, Author of Meant to Bleed. “Wilmar Luna has taken the usual superhero saga and deconstructed it, shattering any expectations of the ordinary lawful good hero. Cindy isn’t quite an anti-hero, but she is certainly not playing things by the rules.” – Valerie, Cats luv Coffeez blogspot. Curious if this is the right book for you? Read a sample chapter and see for yourself!   A Bitter Winter 2018 promo artwork by Alexander Chelyshev
Wilmar Luna
About the Author
Wilmar Luna

From the time he put on Superman pajamas and leapt off a flight of stairs, Wilmar Luna has been captivated by stories of heroes saving the day. As he grew older, his fascination with 90's pop culture, video games, and movies filled his overactive imagination with fantastical worlds and legendary heroes.

He found an outlet for his creativity by studying video editing and motion graphics design at Mercer County Community College. After graduating in 2008, he freelanced throughout New York City and has edited numerous indie films, freelanced for the NFL, and also worked with the cinematics team at Rockstar Games. He assisted with the launch of Grand Theft Auto V and was also involved in the creation of cutscenes for Red Dead Redemption 2.

After years of watching his name scroll in other people’s credits (please don’t remove me), Wilmar wanted to develop his own projects and ideas. He decided that if he wanted to tell stories of empowered female characters, paranormal detectives, and ghost stories, he would have to venture off on his own.

Wilmar published his first novel in 2012 and his second in 2014. He also published several horror short stories on Wattpad, as well as concept ideas for a gothic fantasy novel. In 2018, Wilmar completed his novel The Silver Ninja: A Bitter Winter, fulfilling his childhood dream to create an empowered, independent, brand new superheroine for a generation of readers hungry for new stories.

For updates on his latest projects, please visit https://thesilverninja.com or follow him on Twitter @WilmarLuna.

Other Books in "The Silver Ninja"
Look Inside
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Wilmar Luna