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In May 2001, 26 Mexican men scrambled across the border and into an area of the Arizona desert known as the Devil's Highway. Only 12 made it safely across. American Book Awardâ"winning writer and poet Urrea (Across the Wire; Six Kinds of Sky; etc.), who was born in Tijuana and now lives outside Chicago, tracks the paths those men took from their home state of Veracruz all the way norte. Their enemies were many: the U.S. Border Patrol ("La Migra"); gung-ho gringo vigilantes bent on taking the law into their own hands; the Mexican Federales; rattlesnakes; severe hypothermia and the remorseless sun, a "110 degree nightmare" that dried their bodies and pounded their brains. In artful yet uncomplicated prose, Urrea captivatingly tells how a dozen men squeezed by to safety, and how 14 othersâ"whom the media labeled the Yuma 14â"did not. But while many point to the group's smugglers (known as coyotes) as the prime villains of the tragedy, Urrea unloads on, in the words of one Mexican consul, "the politics of stupidity that rules both sides of the border." Mexican and U.S. border policy is backward, Urrea finds, and it does little to stem the flow of immigrants. Since the policy results in Mexicans making the crossing in increasingly forbidding areas, it contributes to the conditions that kill those who attempt it. Confident and full of righteous rage, Urrea's story is a well-crafted mÃ©lange of first-person testimony, geographic history, cultural and economic analysis, poetry and an indictment of immigration policy. It may not directly influence the forces behind the U.S.'s southern border travesties, but it does give names and identities to the faceless and maligned "wetbacks" and "pollos," and highlights the brutality and unsustainable nature of the many walls separating the two countries. Maps not seen by PW.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
So many illegal immigrants die in the desert Southwest of the U.S. that only notorious catastrophes make headlines. Urrea reconstructs one such incident in the Sonoran Desert, the ordeal of sun and thirst of two dozen men in May 2001, half of whom suffered excruciating deaths. They came from Vera Cruz; their so-called guide came from Guadalajara. Jesus Lopez Ramos was no master of orienteering, however, just an expendable bottom-feeder in the border's human-smuggling racket. Tracing their lives and the routes to the border, Urrea adopts a slangy, surreal style in which the desert landscape shimmers and distorts, while in desiccated border settlements criminals, officials, and vigilantes patrol for human cargo such as the men from Vera Cruz. The imaginative license Urrea takes, paralleling the laconic facts of the case that he incorporates into his narrative, produces a powerful, almost diabolical impression of the disaster and the exploitative conditions at the border. Urrea shows immigration policy on the human level. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Another rollicking story from Mr. Urrea, which makes me want to pick up some more of his books regarding the US/Mexican border and the pain and suffering that's going on there all... Read morePublished 9 months ago by FSJ Book Fan
I received the book at the time it was promised. It is in excellent condition.
The book itself, which I just finished reading, is a powerful narrative. Read more
This story of the Yuma 14 had the potential to be one helluva of a story, as it does read as though it is fictitious. Read morePublished on July 18 2004
I just want to add my voice in recommending this book. As others have said, Urrea writes like a lyricists and masterfuly alternates plain exposition with poetry to tell us the... Read morePublished on June 7 2004
I never, ever read non-fiction but got interested in this book from a blurb in a magazine. It is life-altering, mind changing, perhaps life saving. Read morePublished on May 12 2004 by Snappy
This was my first experience of Urrea's prose, but from the opening pages the narrative sang with the voice of poet - lyrical, vivid, and rich in language and pathos- yet it... Read morePublished on April 28 2004