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In 1990, fearing extradition to the United States, Pablo Escobar - head of the MedellÃn drug cartel - kidnapped ten notable Colombians to use as bargaining chips. With the eye of a poet, GarcÃa MÃ¡rquez describes the survivors' perilous ordeal and the bizarre drama of the negotiations for their release. He also depicts the keening ache of Colombia after nearly forty years of rebel uprisings, right-wing death squads, currency collapse and narco-democracy. With cinematic intensity, breathtaking language and journalistic rigor, GarcÃa MÃ¡rquez evokes the sickness that inflicts his beloved country and how it penetrates every strata of society, from the lowliest peasant to the President himself.