Patrick Winn's HELLO, SHADOWLANDS
HELLO, SHADOWLANDS: Inside the Meth Fiefdoms, Rebel Hideouts,
and Bomb-Scarred Party Towns of Southeast Asia
HELLO, SHADOWLANDS is a journey from Myanmar’s anarchic hills to the swamplands of Vietnam, the dark landscapes that pit predators against prey, jihadis against brothel workers, dog thief syndicates against vigilantes, meth barons against Christian vice squads.
Hot economies are expanding legitimate and black markets alike. Stratified by language, faith and rough terrain, Southeast Asia is not dominated by one or two Escobar-style kingpins. The region’s underworld is more like a rain forest, a complex eco-system where diverse breeds of criminality evolve. These crime rings, large and small, collectively form a black economy with shockingly far-reaching scope. This is a world where narco-syndicates rule like feudal lords: each year, they collectively churn out more meth pills than McDonald’s serves Big Macs. Its criminals are seizing the promise of globalization, growing tentacles that span the globe, and creating disturbing links to the West. And with democracy in retreat, much of Southeast Asia is now controlled by autocrats who look to China, not the United States, with it past foreign policy misdeed and current foreign policy neglect.
Winn sees these sweeping forces through the eyes of criminals. aAs he moves through unruly enclaves, Winn does not fixate on black-hearted villains. Some turn to crime to feed their families. Others are compelled by raw greed. But all are lawbreakers surviving in places neglected by the state. Observing and writing with great empathy, Winn expertly weaves their stories into a vivid but unsettling portrait of a region in flux. Life in the shadowlands isn’t always grim: from the guerrilla fiefdoms of Myanmar to punk-rock squat houses in Aceh, humor still flourishes, men and women survive in the absence of law in Southeast Asia’s shadowlands.
This book, essential to understanding Southeast Asia in the twenty-first century and its links to the West reveals a transnational underworld growing steadily more powerful—and its staggering human toll largely ignored by the rest of the world.
Advance Praise for Hello, Shadowlands
“Drawing on a decade of on-the-ground reporting in Southeast Asia, Patrick Winn gives us a rare window into the subterranean depths of the region’s $100 billion organized crime underworld. Winn takes us from the narco-empires of Myanmar’s war-torn north to the slums of Manila, where crime rings peddle phony birth control elixirs to desperate young women. Hello, Shadowlands is a sweeping work of investigative journalism that reads like a thriller you can’t put down. Winn’s reporting on the men and women who run the region’s underworld is both sensitive and incisive. He demonstrates how the breakneck economic growth that has lifted so many fortunes in Southeast Asia has also set the stage for a new golden age of drug trafficking—aided by corruption, despotism and the absence of law. Hello, Shadowlands is a quintessential read for anyone who wants to understand the dark side of Southeast Asia’s economic gains.”— Megha Rajagolpalan, China bureau chief, Buzzfeed News
“Through a gripping narrative, Patrick Winn takes the reader on first-hand tour of Southeast Asia’s underworld—from the meth dens of Myanmar’s rugged Kachin State to Manila’s fetid slums where Duterte’s drug war has killed thousands, all the way to Central Vietnam where village mobs have murdered drug-addicted dog meat thieves. As Southeast Asia’s villages empty and its cities swell, the region seems caught in a bitter struggle between the powerful syndicates who control the $31 billion methamphetamine traffic and desperate citizen vigilantes who are determined to break the drug’s grip by any means necessary. Through vivid character portraits and deft anecdotes, Winn offers the reader an intimate, indelible portrait of a major world region in the throes of serious social change.”— Alfred W. McCoy, author of The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade
Patrick Winn is currently the Asia correspondent for Public Radio International. His work has appeared on NBC News, The Atlantic, the BBC and other outlets. He has received the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award (also known as the “Poor Man’s Pulitzer”) and a National Press Club award. He’s also a two-time winner of Amnesty International’s Human Rights Press Awards among other prizes. Winn was raised in Eden, a largely abandoned North Carolina factory town and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2003 with a journalism degree. His early reportage explored economic decay in the American south and crime within the U.S. military. Since 2008, Winn has lived in Bangkok and reported almost exclusively on Southeast Asia. He reads and speaks Thai—and occasionally sings it, badly, in upcountry karaoke bars.
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