4 out of 4 stars
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Gringo: My Life On The Edge As An International Fugitive by Dan "Tito" Davis is exceptionally trilling and fascinating biography. Written by Davis himself with some help from Peter Conti, who after reading it, rewrote it with Dan and pieced it into a flawless book. This is an addicting read. A page turner of a book which yet again proves that life writes the best stories.
Before many fake identities he was simply Dan Davis, oldest of five, born in Pierre, South Dakota in 1953 which despite the fact that it was capital at the time was relatively small. At ten years old he got his first job as flag boy to crop dusters. In high school he started working at the horse stable and began training to be a jockey. That was a successful yet short career. Dan went to Black Hills State College in Spearfish, South Dakota. And that is a place were his infamous or rather famous career began. Couple of marriages, drug enterprise, lots of money and jail time later this story begins as Dan is a International fugitive as tittle of this book says. I am being intentionally vague about that decade of his life prior to him running away from another jail sentence in US, because I don't want to give too much away. But trust me you will get to know Dan Davis the smart man, who made it big in the drug business in the 1970’s only to be accused of a crime he actually didn’t commit and became wanted man. Not wanting to spend 30 years in jail, in 1994 Dan fled to Mexico, which was the beginning of his 13 years long "adventure" with many unbelievable people and situations. Think off being tutored in Spanish by a woman who was also an assassin or being a protégé of Madellin cartel to name a few.
Those 13 years that Dan spend looking over his shoulder while in some countries traveling and some living are filled with amazing stories. Sure some are crude, some funny, some unbelievable but all were very much fascinating. Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba, Germany, India, Thailand, Indonesia are just some of the places Davis takes us. The most memorable and important are Mexico, Columbia and at the end Venezuela. That is the place where Davis meets and decides to settle down with his third wife Mary Luz. That is also the place were his fugitive life ends.
The tone of the book is very imperturbable and stoic just like his protagonist. Dan Davis trough all troubles and turbulence of paranoid and anxious life just stays pretty much composed. He just rolls with the punches. And there very many. Sure at times emotion won over but he tries to survive fallowing the list of rules he made for himself. And when he slips I still understand after all he is human. His perseverance is very remarkable.
At times it is hard to comprehend that this is non fiction. That this book is someone's real life experience. Surely we all watched this stories on TV but to be immersed in reading about it is astonishing. Or at least that is my take and I do always choose book over movie but still I find this book very much honest and truthful. Maybe the reason why I liked it and enjoyed it, is in Dan's unobtrusive storytelling and portraying all the side characters, who mostly were insolent wrongdoers, in a way I found understandable and likable. After all they all trying to survive in hard and unforgiving world.
I didn't like the abrupt ending but that has more with my subjective feel for the story. I just didn't wanted it to end. Obviously some readers may find language or situations at times vulgar or the reasoning and Dan's choices morally wrong. I at the end am struggling to find one thing out of place with this book. There are no grammar or editorial mistakes, the flow of the story and three dimensional characters are masterfully written. Once I started reading it I just couldn't stop. Dan Davis was Gringo to many, Tito to some but not for one second was he boring. At the end as many times while reading biographies I feel a bit sad and a lot of curious. Sad because there is certain bittersweet taste of real life in it and curious as what happens next for Dan. I like to believe that Dan's wanderlust soul is somewhere traveling legally with official paperwork.
This is a compelling story read in one breath. I give this book 4 out of 4 stars. It is just impossible to rate it lower. If you are looking for some greatly written suspense book that will teach and entertain you look no more. This is it.
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