January 20th 2018 will mark the 10th anniversary of the premiere of Breaking Bad, the groundbreaking, critically-acclaimed series which will forever go down as one of the best TV series of all time.
If you haven’t binge-watched Breaking Bad yet, go do it. Now. It’s by far one of the most exciting, action-packed, thought-provoking, and downrigt masterful works of art put to film. Between the gripping cinematography, profound acting by the entire cast, and unreal storylines, Breaking Bad brings originality and excitement to the screen.
The sixteen-time Emmy winner brought chemistry to life with its portrayal of chemistry teacher-turned-drug lord Walter White. White’s cancer diagnosis brings him face-to-face with the dull reality of his lackluster life. Unsatisfied with his career and dull marriage, and looking for financial security, Walter immerses himself in the chaotic, exciting, rich, and incredibly violent world of narcotics.
If you’re a fan of Breaking Bad, here are the five books to check out for a dose of chaos, action, and drama. If you’re thinking of watching Breaking Bad for the first time (Do it. Do it.), you’ll definitely be needing some breaks to process the puzzling questions of morality the series forces you to acknowledge.
1. Cartel by Don Winslow
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Perhaps the most profound and adrenaline-inducing over-arching storyline in Breaking Bad is the relationship between drug lord Walter White and his DEA-agent brother in law, Hank Schrader. From the first episode up to the last season, this complex relationship filled with an underbelly of contempt and distrust of two individuals on opposite sides of the violent and destructive war on drugs made the series a hell of a ride. This binary relationship is mirrored in Winslow’s novel and won’t fail to entice readers.
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE
It’s 2004. Adán Barrera, kingpin of El Federación, is languishing in a California federal prison. Ex-DEA agent Art Keller passes his days in a monastery, having lost everything to his thirty-year blood feud with the drug lord. Then Barrera escapes. Now, there’s a two-million-dollar bounty on Keller’s head and no one else capable of taking Barrera down.
As the carnage of the drug war reaches surreal new heights, the two men are locked in a savage struggle that will stretch from the mountains of Sinaloa to the shores of Veracruz, to the halls of power in Washington, ensnaring countless others in its wake. Internationally bestselling author Don Winslow’s The Cartel is the searing, unfiltered epic of the drug war in the twenty-first century.
2. No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
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Cormac McCarthy is an acclaimed author and his novels never fail to mystify, shock, and disturb readers everywhere. His action-packed and emotional characters and storylines mirror the emotional and entertaining depth of Breaking Bad. Like the series, McCarthy’s novel is thought-provoking and will chill your spine long after you’re done.
In his blistering new novel, Cormac McCarthy returns to the Texas-Mexico border, setting of his famed Border Trilogy. The time is our own, when rustlers have given way to drug-runners and small towns have become free-fire zones.
One day, a good old boy named Llewellyn Moss finds a pickup truck surrounded by a bodyguard of dead men. A load of heroin and two million dollars in cash are still in the back. When Moss takes the money, he sets off a chain reaction of catastrophic violence that not even the law–in the person of aging, disillusioned Sheriff Bell–can contain.
As Moss tries to evade his pursuers–in particular a mysterious mastermind who flips coins for human lives–McCarthy simultaneously strips down the American crime novel and broadens its concerns to encompass themes as ancient as the Bible and as bloodily contemporary as this morning’s headlines.
No Country for Old Men is a triumph.
3. Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff
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Some of the most emotional and shocking storylines in Breaking Bad focus on the personal tribulations of Walter White’s partner-in-crime Jesse Pinkman. From his addiction to Crystal Meth to his troubled relationship with his parents to his tragic love with his girlfriend Jane (a fellow addict), Jesse has had his fair share of hardships. Nic Sheff, author of his memoir Tweak, shares his own hardships with drug addiction and how it was influenced by (and affected) his relationships. The similarities between the two is just another reason why Tweak is a worthy read.
This New York Times bestselling memoir of a young man’s addiction to methamphetamine tells a raw, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful tale of the road from relapse to recovery and complements his father’s parallel memoir, Beautiful Boy.
Nic Sheff was drunk for the first time at age eleven. In the years that followed, he would regularly smoke pot, do cocaine and Ecstasy, and develop addictions to crystal meth and heroin. Even so, he felt like he would always be able to quit and put his life together whenever he needed to. It took a violent relapse one summer in California to convince him otherwise. In a voice that is raw and honest, Nic spares no detail in telling us the compelling, heartbreaking, and true story of his relapse and the road to recovery. As we watch Nic plunge the mental and physical depths of drug addiction, he paints a picture for us of a person at odds with his past, with his family, with his substances, and with himself. It’s a harrowing portrait—but not one without hope.
4. Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw by Mark Bowden
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Pablo Escobar is by far one of the most influential, destructive, and successful drug lords (if you haven’t watched Netflix’s Narcos, what are you doing with your life?). The impact of Escobar’s career on the Colombian community and government, as well as the American government, is nearly hard to put into words. If you think Walter White was bad, then check out Pablo Escobar.
Killing Pablo is the inside story of the brutal rise and violent fall of Colombian cocaine cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar, whose criminal empire held a nation of thirty million hostage–a reign of terror that would end only with his death. In an intense, up-close account, best-selling author and award-winning journalist Mark Bowden exposes the never-before-revealed details of how U.S. operatives covertly led the sixteen-month manhunt.
Drawing on unprecedented access to the soldiers, field agents, and officials involved in the chase, as well as hundreds of pages of top-secret documents and transcripts of Escobar’s intercepted phone conversations, Bowden creates a gripping narrative that reads as if it were torn from the pages of a military technothriller. At every phase, he brings to life the men who brought the drug lord down.
Bowden’s last book, the New York Times best-seller Black Hawk Down, was hailed by critics (David Halberstam called it “a brilliant book, a heartbreaking story wonderfully well told–it’s everything I admire”) and became a finalist for the National Book Award. In Killing Pablo, Bowden’s reportage achieves a new level, his narrative an epic scope. Action-packed and unputdownable, Killing Pablo is a tour de force of investigative journalism and a stark portrayal of rough justice in the real world.
5. The Infiltrator by Robert Mazur
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The basis of Breaking Bad‘s success has undoubtedly been rooted in the incredible and award-winning performance of Bryan Cranston as Walter White. Cranston brought back his incredible performance in a new role in the adaptation of Mazur’s novel which chronicles the cartel founded by Pablo Escobar. Mazur’s novel was nearly created for Cranston and when you read it, you’ll see why.
Robert Mazur spent years undercover infiltrating the Medellín Cartel’s criminal hierarchy. The dirty bankers and businessmen he befriended-some of whom still shape power across the globe-knew him as Bob Musella, a wealthy, mob-connected big shot living the good life. Together they partied in $1,000-per-night hotel suites, drank bottles of the world’s finest champagne, drove Rolls-Royce convertibles, and flew in private jets. But under Mazur’s Armani suits and in his Renwick briefcase, recorders whirred silently, capturing the damning evidence of their crimes.
The Infiltrator is the story of how Mazur helped bring down the unscrupulous bankers who manipulated complex international finance systems to serve drug lords, corrupt politicians, tax cheats, and terrorists. It is a shocking chronicle of the rise and fall of one of the biggest and most intricate money-laundering operation of all time-an enterprise that cleaned and moved hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Filled with dangerous lies, near misses, and harrowing escapes, The Infiltrator is as bracing and explosive as the greatest fiction thrillers-only it’s all true.
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