Book Review : Joshua Davis - John McAfee's Last Stand

Country: USA/Belize

Genre: True Crime

Pages: 1712 kb (eOriginal)


''John has always been searching for something,'' says Jennifer Irwin, McAfee's girlfriend at the time. She remembers him telling her once that he was trying to reach ''the expansive horizon''.

In 2012, cracked out American billionaire John McAfee was the coolest cat that ever lived for every occidental male between ages 25 and 50. Once the creator of McAfee Antivirus software company, he is now far into his sixties, yet fit like a panther and living like a king in a small, remote country he has potentially enough money to buy. That's a retirement plan you can't even begin to dream about. He seemed to have won the game of life, until his neighbor Greg Faull was found murdered. Then John McAfee's idyllic life was turned inside out and the most compelling news story of 2012 was born. Did John McAfee murder Greg Faull, the neighbor who kept complaining about his dogs? Or was he persecuted by the Belizean authorities like he pretends? The saga is not over, but if you want to get up to speed, wired journalist Joshua Davis has written the book that made McAfee who he is in the public eye. 

Davis' book isn't just an account of the murder investigation, it's also a portrait of John McAfee and an attempt to explain rationally how did such a successful man ended up being Belize's biggest party animal and suspect of everything, from drug distribution to murder. Davis separated the narrative in two segments, recent events and marking events of McAfee's professional and personal life. He is portrayed as a man of insatiable, abstract needs who needs to push himself further after whatever he accomplishes and therefore, the situation he is caught in was an inevitable ending to a life of such recklessness. According to Davis, McAfee made his fortune out of paranoia (''giving people the fear of what they can't see i.e computer viruses''), so that his wacked out, paranoid state is the culmination of something that was always a part of him.

Now if JOHN MCAFEE'S LAST STAND was pure pulp fiction, I would've screamed bloody genius. The reality is more complex, but it's as compelling.  Davis wrote the most outlandish scenes, that will make you laugh out loud and secretly wish you were John McAfee for a day. But really, how much of this is the truth? How much is born out of Joshua Davis' desire to write a great piece and to create a legend? How much is born out of McAfee's strained, eccentric mind? Part of me is thinking it's not important at all, whether it happened or not. JOHN MCAFEE'S LAST STAND is entertaining as hell and it's dubious nature is rather healthy in the internet age, where most myths can be debunked by an emotionally challenged basement dweller with a lot of time to lose. Even my good-boy, honest-to-God instinct are kept in respect in front of that work. I don't really care if he didn't really do all of what Joshua Davis said he did, but I find it comforting to think I'm ready to believe it.

Deep in the compound, McAfee burst out of a thatched-roff bungalow that stood on stilts 20 feet off the ground. He was naked and held a revolver. By 2009, he had sold almost everything he owned-estates in Hawaii, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas as well as his 10-passenger plane-and moved into the jungle. He announced that he was searching for natural antibiotics in the rain forest and constructred a mysterious green laboratory on is property. Now his jungle adventure was coming to an end. The commandos were converging on him. There were 31 of them; he was outgunned and outmanned.

''Motherfuckers,'' he muttered.

JOHN MCAFEE'S LAST STAND is most likely a good part romance, but the beauty of it is that it doesn't call for investigation. Unlike the James Frey and Greg Mortenson, Joshua Davis didn't fake his life events for profit, but rather created a folklore hero in an age where people doubt everything and nothing. Of course he will profit from and I am very happy I threw the meager buck that cost JOHN MCAFEE'S LAST STAND at him. I didn't believe that from my living, I would see a folkloric figure such as Wyatt Earp, Jesse James and those of the Far West. Joshua Davis has made John McAfee more than a man. He is now a symbol for those who are alienated by the way we live. He is powerful wayward with struggled we don't fully understand, but we root for him anyway. By the time I finished JOHN MCAFEE'S LAST STAND, I didn't really care whether or not he killed Greg Faull. I just wished I could live his life for a day. I see a bright literary future for Joshua Davis, whether he choses to write fiction or this peculiar blend of journalism.



I'm a pop culture blogger and author living in Montreal, Canada with my better half Josie and my dog Scarlett. I am a proud member of author collective Zelmer Pulp and have about a dozen of short stories published to my resume.

1 comment:

  1. Holy cow...this stuff on John McAfee just barely hit the news and there's already a book about it and you've read it?

    Name recognition should make this one a big seller, given it's still in the news.

    I love your creepy background with the guy's face in silhouette.