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Savages [Paperback]

Don Winslow
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 2010
Young, independent Laguna Beach-based marijuana kingpins are blackmailed into working for the Baja Cartel after one of their threesome is kidnapped.

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Review

“A revelation . . . This is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on autoload.” —Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly

“Stylish . . . Mega-cool . . . Ferocious.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“A spellbinding tour de force that is utterly impossible to put down.” —Christopher Reich

“This is the story of love’s costs—and the acceptance of whatever that cost entails.” —Randy Michael Signor, Chicago Sun-Times

“A wickedly funny and smart novel.” —Janet Evanovich

“Winslow’s marvelous, adrenaline-juiced roller coaster of a novel . . . is both a departure and a culmination, pyrotechnic braggadocio and deep meditation on contemporary American culture.” —Sarah Weinman, Los Angeles Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Don Winslow, a former private investigator and consultant, is the author of twelve novels, including The Dawn Patrol, The Winter of Frankie Machine, The Power of the Dog, California Fire and Life, and The Death and Life of Bobby Z. He lives in Southern California.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It was okay... Aug. 10 2012
Format:Mass Market Paperback
When I read this book I had already seen the movie which is something I would normally never do. When I first saw the trailer for this movie I was excited to see it, and I didn’t even know that it was a movie. That same day I was in a (legal) drug store and saw the book, so I picked it up with the intentions of reading it before the movie came out. That’s not exactly the way it turned out and I was blindsided into seeing the movie first. I really hate reading a book after seeing a movie because you know what’s going to happen. I guess these days screenwriters and directors often change the plot so much you can barely recognize the story, but I digress more on that later.

This is not normally something that I would read. I don’t like reading about drugs in any form really and this book is a little too adult for me. I actually liked the storyline, but with some of the acronyms and slang talk I struggled to really enjoy the book. I did like some of the characters especially Ben I liked what he stood for. In one way it was okay to read the book after the movie because I could picture things happening. I also like that with the book of course we get more background information like about the Esteban character. I would probably rate this book at a 2.5. The movie was a pretty good adaptation of the novel except of course for the ending. I don’t know why Oliver Stone ended the movie the way that he did…I would also rate the movie about a 50% (It was rated 53% on Rotten Tomatoes) Check out my blog for more reviews: [....]
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4.0 out of 5 stars much better than the movie! Jan. 18 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
as in most cases this novel was much better than the movie adaptation.it was much easier to be sympathetic towards & understanding of the alternative lifestyles & personalities of the characters in the novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars short, sweet and sexy July 19 2012
By Stella
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The entire book reads like you're on drugs with alternating tense and mellow situations. Winslow tackles characters and situations head on and is not afraid to get nasty,dirty and vulgar. By the end of it, you feel like you just came off a «trip». Essentially, the storyline is about the drug business so it was completely appropriate and impressive to have the story written so.

The rhythm is fast like a heartbeat on drugs and the language is as colourful as the world looks through inibriated eyes. The characters are developped quickly but the descriptions are abundant and endearing.
There is never a sentence without meaning, never a moment wasted reading them. 302 pages that go by like a dream...
No lagging, no pointless chapters or even pages. He makes sure to include just enough information to keep you interested and leave the rest to your imagination. Except the sex scenes - NOTHING is left to your imagination. They are exotic and dare I say it? savage. How fitting.

The movie was good, the book is better! what else is new?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Savages Jan. 6 2012
By Pithy
Format:Hardcover
Savages is brief, violent & bawdy good fun. While it takes the hard boiled crime thriller form and updates it in an idiosyncratic post modern style there is not much said. As though melted down to its prime elements it is still an enjoyable reading experiment.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  237 reviews
58 of 67 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "You can't make peace with savages." July 12 2010
By Luan Gaines - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Winslow has been compared to Raymond Chandler and Elmore Leonard for his hip novels of Southern California and the sly wit of his writing. But anyone who has read The Power of the Dog will understand this author's grasp of politics and culture, appropriately cynical about the nature of bureaucracy, the war on drugs and the folly and waste of it all, as played out in his two protagonists in Savages: Ben and Chonny. Ever the idealist, Ben chooses to walk away when the Baja Cartel makes a move on their hugely lucrative marijuana business. But like the flip side of a coin, Chon is more pragmatic, understanding that acquiescence will be mistaken for weakness. The pair is at an impasse until the involvement of their friend, Ophelia, makes it impossible to embrace the way of the temperate.

In his inimitable staccato style, Winslow blows through the consciousness of the three friends and the simian brain of the Baja Cartel, who can only be met with similar force. The result, while often hilarious, is ultimately tragic, when the way to power is only through savage methods. Winslow makes pithy and poignant comments on our So Cal version of civilization, with an unwavering eye and an acerbic sense of justice. It's always a pleasure to read a local author's perceptions of the all-too-familiar places in my city and neighboring jurisdictions, as familiar to me as Ben and Chon's lives are unfamiliar (but accessible thanks to Winslow). That is Winslow's gift: like it or not, you gain entry into his world, beautiful, sleek, troubled and decidedly more often than not, savage. Luan Gaines/2010.
28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Winslow hits another home run with Savages!!! July 18 2010
By Wayne C. Rogers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
One of the best kept secrets in America today is author, Don Winslow. Like the writer, Joe R. Lansdale, it seems that only a fraction of the readers in this country know about Don. That's about to change. The next twelve months will bring Don Winslow to the forefront for fiction readers to see with the publication of Savages and then Satori in March of 2011. Savages is already in the process of being turned into a movie by Oliver Stone with a screenplay by Winslow, and Satori will be the sequel, or prequel, to the famous espionage thriller, Shibumi, which was written by the late, great Trevanian back during the early eighties. I managed to nag an advance copy of both books, and I can tell you that as a forty-year fan of Trevanian, Don Winslow has captured the author's style of writing perfectly in just the first ten pages. Let me also mention that Winslow is the author of the "Neal Carey" detective series, Isle of Joy, The Life & Times of Bobby Z (which was turned into a movie), The Power of the Dog, The Winter of Frankie Machine (Robert De Niro is making that into a film), California Fire and Ice, and The Dawn Patrol. All of the novels have proven to be excellent in scope and writing style (Winslow changes writing styles with almost every book--he's like a chameleon) and storyline, not mention character development. This author is a master of the written word much like Nicholai Hel in Satori is the master of death.

Now, what about Savages?

This is the story of two Laguna Beach bums who know how to make and distribute the best home-grown marijuana in the country. These guys have it made and are sitting on top of the world, until the Mexican Baja Drug Cartel decides it wants to take over their business. That's when everything hits the fan, figuratively speaking. The two beach bums aren't your ordinary pair of bums. Ben is the son of two shrinks and also holds two majors-one in marketing and one in botany--from the University of California in Berkeley, while Chon is the son of an old marijuana dealer and is a former Navy SEAL. These guys are pretty cool, until you get them riled up, and the drug cartel does just that when it kidnaps their love interest and very close friend, Ophelia (aka O), and threaten to cut off her head if the guys don't compile with their demands. Of course, that's when Chon goes into action. Even Ben, who has been spending his money on charities and philanthropy projects, is going to have to get bloody in this operation because the Baja Drug Cartel is no mom-and-pop's store. This organization is as serious as a heart attack and won't hesitate to put down Ben and Chon, rather than risk the lost of respect from the competing drug dealers. In fact, they have a killer named Lado, who gets off on removing the heads of their competition with a chain saw. Can Ben and Chon take on a drug cartel as vast as this one? You're going to have to read the book to find out.

What truly amazes me as both a reader and an author is how easily Don Winslow changes his writing style to accommodate the novel. Pretty much every author has their own unique way of telling a story that carries over from book to book. Don Winslow doesn't. His novel, Isle of Joy, is written in a style that's completely different from The Power of the Dog and The Winter of Frankie Machine. The Dawn Patrol is different from the three previous books, and Savages is totally different from anything he's written before. I can also say the same thing for Satori. How this author manages such an incredible feat is beyond me. He's certainly not afraid to take chances. The only constants in all of Winslow's novels is the high caliber of storytelling, the fully developed characters (even the minor ones), the large number of plot twists that keep you trying to guess where the story is headed, and the surprise ending that often leave you breathless.

His newest novel, Savages, is just such a book. It clearly offers the reader high-octane entertainment that travels at the speed of a Magnum bullet, knocking you right off your feet with the unexpected. Winslow's books are as addictive as meth is to a junkie. If you don't believe me, get yourself a copy of The Power of the Dog, or California Fire and Life, or The Winter of Frankie Machine. It won't be long till you're trying to find everything he's written. I can promise that once Satori comes out in March of 2011, this author is going to be on everybody's bestseller list and his earlier novels are going to be nearly impossible to find, unless you're willing to pay an arm and a leg for them. Pick up Savages and see for yourself how great this writer is, and then remember that I told you so!
36 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The title says it all... and them some July 12 2010
By Jason Frost - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Is there such a thing as intellectually crude humor? There must be because how else could you explain this book? I read this book based on a tip from some friends who live in So-Cal. And you really can't go wrong with book recommends from buddies who live in So-Cal. Up till this book I hadn't read anything by Mr. Winslow so I went in with my mind wide open. Which was a good idea because I needed all the cerebral space for every little bit of everything this book had to offer.

The last time I tried this I got a nosebleed but I'm feeling lucky. So here goes... Mexican drug lords want to take over the booming, exotic weed trade from a pair of hard working yet laid back dudes. These dudes (Ben & Chon) share a bed partner whose name is Ophelia. Ophelia, or "O", is known for being quirky and having the most earth shattering orgasms known to man or Brazilian gods. Ben & Chon are the Yin and Yang to each other and opposite in almost every way, sans one. Don't mess with their weed. Period. The Mexican drug lords not only ignore this one simple rule, they compound their idiocy with blackmail. Even Forrest Gump wasn't that stupid. The Texas Chainsaw Mexicans send Ben & Chon a pretty gruesome message via Skype. Who said low-life drug dealers can't be techno-geeks?

Ben & Chon... well... they comply. But HOW the comply is what makes this story total badass! `Savages' is a mind trip mix of Zen, fiction, Woodstock, Cytherea on "e", prose, violence, and one heck of an startling ending. I never ever, ever, ever, ever saw that one coming. What really had me going with this book were the blatant violence and the genius blending of uncontrived intellect and gutter humor. 100% pure Middle East Opium blend of sharp, pungent wit. Sum this up in two words? Decadently indecent.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A little too cool Feb. 14 2011
By S. P. Graham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I regard myself as a fan of Don Winslow. In my view, this is by far the most disappointing book that he has written recently. Although focusing, as many of his books do, on the complicated relationship between the United States and Mexico (particularly in the context of the war on drugs) this book has nowhere near the depth of other titles such as "Power of the Dog." Unfortunately, it also lacks likeable characters of the type featured in "Bobby Z" or in the Boone Daniels books. The novel is short, and the never-ending coolness grates. Although not totally irredeemable, compared to his other books, "Savages" fails on most levels.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The test of civilization is the estimate of a woman. Among savages she is a slave." George W. Curtis Jan. 1 2011
By michael a. draper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Yes, this is the story of two men who are drug dealers but it is also a well told novel where the reader becomes interested the central protagonists. These two men were minding happy in their simple life when a Mexican drug cartel tries to take over their business. It also answers the question if it is possible for a person or persons to stand up to the murder and firepower of one of the major Mexican drug gangs.

When dealing with ex-mercenary, Chon, it's helpful to realize that he enjoys pain. He's a former SEAL who has been back to Afghanistan twice. He and his partner, Ben, have a mauijuana opertaion in Laguna Beach that is very profitable. Chon's feeling is that dope creates balance in a person's life.

Chon and Ben are informed that the Mexican Baja Cartel intends to control all of the marijuana in Southern California. They don't want any competition but want the partners to stay in business and sell their produce to them. Then, the Cartel will make most of the profit.

When representatives of the Cartel approach the men with their offer, their offer is turned down. Actually, Chon and Ben feel that they have made enough money. They will stop selling marijuana and offer the Cartel their entire business.

The Cartel's leader tells them that they don't have a choice. Their business wouldn't be as lucerative without their management. Then as a show of strength, they kidnap Ophelia, "O" who is Chon and Ben's playmate. The Cartel demands a ransome and three years of cooperation in order to get her back.

This mistake sets the heroes on a plan to disrupt the Cartel's business. But, how will they be able to rescue O from this group of killers? What happens next is part of an excellent story.

The novel is a quick read. Chon and Ben are intriguing characters, rebels against authority and witty in their responses. Winslow has a good ability in giving his characters good dialogue and the story flows from the pages with ease.

A film adaptation is under way and I can't wait. 3 1/2 star review moved up to four with the enjoyable characters and smooth story.
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