Blood and Death

Blood + Death
Blood + Death
The Secret History of Santa Muerte and the Mexican Drug Cartels. | Photo: Archives | Link | Blood, Death, Drug, Cartel, Mexico, Violence, Book,

The strange cult of the drug cartels.

Cinco De Mayo's cultural flair will spill out into the streets soon and, if you look, many faces will host a ghostly grin, bearing a close resemblance to death. The painted Death Mask represents a darker history, one that Mexican Cartels hinge their control upon. This connection is the focus of a new book by John Lee Brook which lasers through the murky world of the Mexican Drug cartels, and their cult-like beliefs.

Blood + Death: The Secret History of Santa Muerte and the Mexican Drug Cartels is a page turner (1). Check out an excerpt on Fair warning, it will pull you in.

Blood + Death puts the details in stories about infamous Cartel thugs like Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo nicknamed El Mochaorejas (ear chopper), gangs like the Los Aztecas, and cold-blooded teenage hit-men. It also delivers psychological insight into how Santa Muerte, a female grim reaper, acts as a "safety valve"(2) for the expression of pent up fear, anger, and hostility: leading to lawlessness, torture and "censorship by bullet" (3).

The book provides a soaring view of libertine aggression that stretches from Mexico to drug-war scarred South America, and proves to be one of the best contemporary books about the history of the Drug Cartels to come around in a decade. Blood + Death relates the connections between the ritual practices, sacrifice, and idol worship many cartel members bestow upon Santa Muerte: from a gang called La Resistencia to Arturo Beltran Leyva a.k.a. "The Beard."

Fun fact: Santa Muerte's cultural ties date back to the Aztec religious system and sacrifice involving tearing out the heart to give to the sun; the practice ended with Spanish Conquest in the sixteenth century, but with Catholicism a new deity evolved (4). Today, Santa Muerte (Holy Death) is best known in the shape of the Mother Mary with a face painted like a Carnival Death Mask.

The depiction of their worship was popularized in the hit series Breaking Bad.

Whether your taste encompasses True Crime, Crypto-politics, or cultural examination, you'll find the hours slipping away as you read Brook's latest, laying out chilling details and surprises on every page.
  1. Headpress (May 11, 2015) ISBN-13: 978-1909394216, e-book and soft cover 5.5 X 0.5 X 8.5 inches, 210 pages.
  2. Wright, George O. (1954) "Projection and Displacement: A cross-cultural study of folk tales aggression" Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 49: 523-528.
  3. Pen International
  4. Horner, Michael (1977) "The ecological Basis for Aztec Sacrifice" American Ethnologist 4: 117-135.

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Updated Aug 12, 2017 12:01 PM EDT | More details


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