Shooting the Moon: The True Story of an American Manhunt Unlike Any Other, Ever by David Harris

America's deadly pursuit of Manuel Noriega and Pablo Escobar -- 1989 was a banner year for the war on drugs. 7 years after President Reagan created a Cabinet-level task force to coordinate US efforts to combat drug smuggling and placed his vice president, George H.W. Bush, in charge of it, Bush had become president and sent 20,000 American troops to Panama to seize that country's de facto ruler on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.

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David Harris blends the genres of legal thriller and true crime to produce a lively account of how and why the federal government decided to haul in the Panamanian strongman. It's an extraordinary story: "Just once in its 225 years of formal national existence has the United States ever invaded another country and carried its ruler back to the United States to face trial and imprisonment for violations of American law committed on that ruler's own native foreign turf." In large part, Shooting the Moon is the tale of the creative investigators and lawyers who made the case against Noriega. There's plenty of politics, too, with parts played by the first President Bush, Oliver North, and Eliot Abrams. Readers will also learn much about the world of drug smuggling in the 1980s, from the bureaucratic workings of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency to the operations of Colombia's cocaine-peddling Medellin cartel. The book screeches to a halt just as the invasion gets underway--the military effort and Noriega's actual arrest are described in cursory fashion, taking up just a few pages at the end. Harris primarily focuses on the legal and political aspects of the case as they developed in Miami (where the case against Noriega was built) and Washington (where the powers that be called the shots).

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