Colombia: travel books to read before you go

This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Colombia guide provides a selection of travel literature to get you in the mood for your trip.

More Terrible Than DeathA highly recommended personal account is More Terrible Than Death: Violence, Drugs, and America’s War in Colombia (2003) by Robin Kirk.

Killing PeaceA similar book, Killing Peace: Colombia’s Conflict and the Failure of US Intervention (2002), by Garry Leech, offers a condensed analysis of the United States’ involvement in Colombia.

Americas Other WarAnother controversial book on the subject is America’s Other War: Terrorizing Colombia (2005) by Doug Stokes, a critical account of US policy in Colombia that gets its message across by using declassified documents. The reading is a little dry and academic, but the tone is unmistakably critical of US involvement.

Colombia & the USAFor more left-wing reading, check out Mario Murillo’s Colombia and the United States: War, Terrorism, and Destabilization (2003).

The Heart of the WarFor a history of Colombia’s recent troubles through the eyes of those affected, read The Heart of the War in Colombia (2002) by Constanza Ardila Galvis.

ColombiaColombia: A Brutal History (2004) by Geoff Simons is also worth a read.

Between Legitimacy and ViolenceBetween Legitimacy and Violence: A History of Colombia, 1875–2002 (2006) by Marco Palacios offers the broad storyline of Colombia, covering the main social and economic trends in the country’s modern history.

Muddied WatersColombia has very little racial tension, but it wasn’t always that way. Nancy Appelbaum offers a critical look at the paísa myth of Antioquia and the history of race in Colombia in her 2003 book, Muddied Waters: Race, Region, and Local History in Colombia, 1846–1948.

The Fruit PalaceFinally, no traveler will want to miss Charles Nicholl’s book The Fruit Palace (1994), a hilarious diary of his wanderings through the country in the 1980s. Think Hunter S Thompson meets Colombian drug barons. (Spoiler: he survives to tell the tale.)

More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found on