"Brilliantly crafted ... an evocative tour through places that are too often ignored."

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown director Tom Vitale

From Public Radio International's award-winning Asia correspondent comes a portrait of Southeast Asia through the lens of organized crime — a world of narco-barons, vigilantes, motorbike bandits and others caught up in a mad scramble for cash.

Organized crime is entering a golden age in Southeast Asia. Though steadily ignored by Western media — which prefers to fixate on Mexican cartels or Sicilian mafia — this sector is exploding. By 2025, the region's black markets will generate $375 billion per year, more than many Asian nations' legit economies.

This boom is abetted by authoritarianism, which has swept across Southeast Asia with little U.S. pushback. Police, made untouchable by autocrats, are colluding with crime rackets at the expense of everyday people. Meanwhile, an ascendent China is stitching together the region with concrete and steel — building highways, ports and rail lines that help smugglers move people and drugs across choppy terrain.

Hello, Shadowlandsis a journey from Myanmar's anarchic hills to the swamplands of Vietnam, from the Thai-Malaysia borderlands to the back alleys of Manila, and to other landscapes where crime syndicates thrive. Among them: a methamphetamine empire churning out more speed pills each year than Starbucks sells coffee orders worldwide.

With "somber elegance ... avoiding both sensationalism and moralizing" (Lawrence Osborne), the book explores the lives of people caught up in this underworld. They are often pit against one another: jihadis against brothel workers, pet thieves against vigilantes and drug militias against Christian vice squads.

Bangkok-based journalist Patrick Winn's "sensitive and incisive" approach (Buzzfeed) subverts the true crime genre, which delights in deranged minds. Winn instead finds that criminals are rational actors operating in extreme circumstance. Also uncovered are the hidden forces have swept trouble into their lives — including past misdeeds of American and European empires still rippling forward through time.

Hello, Shadowlands is essential to understanding Southeast Asia in the 21st-century. Says Ioan Grillo, author of El Narco: "Anyone who wants to make sense of the dark side of modern global capitalism needs to read it."


"Brilliantly crafted and thrilling to read. This is a page turner with soul — an evocative tour through places that are too often ignored."

Tom Vitale, director of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on CNN

"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. It is a quintessential read for anyone who wants to understand the dark side of Southeast Asia's economic gains."

Megha Rajagopalan, China bureau chief, BuzzFeed News

"Avoiding both sensationalism and moralizing, Patrick Winn takes his reader with somber elegance into Southeast Asia's criminal underworld - and from more interesting perspectives than the usual drug dealers and traffickers. Here is a world as rich, contradictory and strange as any that one could think of."

 Lawrence Osborne, author of Beautiful Animals and Bangkok Days

"In a gripping narrative, Patrick Winn takes the reader on first-hand tour of Southeast Asia's underworld ... Through vivid character portraits, Winn offers the reader an intimate, indelible portrait of a major world region in the throes of serious social change."

Prof. Alfred W. McCoy, author of The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade

"Patrick Winn writes in a vibrant, readable style ... His vivid descriptions take you deep into surreal and at times heartbreaking worlds but he also steps away to give wider meaning to these tales and their place in the economic and political systems. Anyone who wants to make sense of the dark side of modern global capitalism needs to read it."

Ioan Grillo, author of El Narco and Gangster Warlords


South China Morning Post