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The Devil's Highway: A True Story Paperback – Sep 19 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (Sept. 19 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316010804
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316010801
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14.1 x 2.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #69,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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First Sentence
Five men stumbled out of the mountain pass so sunstruck they didn't know their own names, couldn't remember where they'd come from, had forgotten how long they'd been lost. Read the first page
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Denise M. Caramagno on May 25 2004
Format: Hardcover
Amazing book! I couldn't put it down and read it from cover to cover in one day. Urrea has a gift for language and he applies it here. This is the story of 26 men from Veracruz. Urrea could have recounted the story of how 14 of them died in the desert and left it at that. This would still be a book worth reading... but he went way beyond those confines. He took the story of those 26 men from Veracruz and put it in historical, cultural and geographical context. He opened a window onto other worlds and onto our own. He portrays the immigrants, the border patrol and even the coyote, without judgment. He allows the reader to come to her/his own conclusion. Powerful, poetic and unforgettable. I finished it and got back on line to order everything else he has published.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By GMF on May 17 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a factual book that reads like a novel. Once you start, you will not be able to sleep or eat or-- well, you may have to take a break for some essentials-- but you will have a hard time putting it down for anything. The writing is excellent and the information presented is timely and provocative. What is really impressive is how he shows all sides of the story. This is not another diatribe against the heartless gringos who force immigrants to die in the desert. He makes clear Mexico's blame for putting people on the "devil's highway" through corruption and stupid politics. But he also shows how misguided U-S policy has been and he reveals enough about the victims to make you truly mourn for them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 7 2004
Format: Hardcover
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 saga of 26 (more or less, nobody is sure of the exact number) men who made their way from Mexico in search of work and found death and disolation instead. The book indeed reads like a novel, a pageturner (I read it in about a day, I couldn't put it down), but it never allows you to forget that it is a real story, that those people dying in the sun are human beings, and that others - whose names and faces we'll never know - are following in their steps and dying their own desert deaths.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sebastian Fernandez on May 31 2004
Format: Hardcover
Urrea delivers a moving novel based on the true story of the Yuma 14, fourteen Mexicans (from a group of 26) that tried to cross the border and enter the US illegally through the Arizona desert and succumbed in the attempt. The author presents the facts efficiently and his conclusion follows: Mexicans trying to cross the border are human beings like everyone else that had the bad fortune of facing tough economic condition; they should be respected.
The author describes the conditions and historic events that lead to the beginning of the illegal immigration into the US and draws a clear parallelism with our times, when there are several tasks in the US that Americans are reluctant to do, thus illegal immigrants are needed for this. When price changes in international markets adversely affected the Mexican economy and overpopulation became a problem, some Mexicans decided to come to the US. They ended up with a comfortable life, so when others found out, a growing interest in crossing the border developed.
Organizations of coyotes were formed to provide supply for the growing demand, and the poor people seeking a better future became just a means to an end. These individuals in their attempts have to fight against the heat of the desert, thirst, exhaustion, "la migra" (Border Patrol) and the coyotes themselves. On top of this, the control at the border has intensified throughout the last years, so the groups seeking a new future have to go through more dangerous paths each time. In the case of the twenty-six Mexicans that are the center of this story, the point of entry was the Devil's Highway, a deadly desert in Arizona that has claimed numerous victims through the years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Snappy on May 12 2004
Format: Hardcover
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.I never imagined what a horrible world these migrants go through. I'd always assumed Mexican crossing was one guy trying to cross the Rio Grande, getting caught and "oh, well, better luck tomorrow! " NO! This is life and death!Urrea did such a wonderful job of bringing this issue up front.He discusses the politics/economics behind the crossing on both sides and doesn't place blame on any one group.We are ALL guilty here!
I felt the heat, often wanting a glass of water while reading, and wanted to hug every Mexican I saw after reading this book.Like the quote on the back of the book says" EVERYONE should read this book!".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tom Webb on May 1 2004
Format: Hardcover
One reviewer described author's Luis Alberto Urrea's style in this book as "...controlled, righteous rage".
This is an apt description. Urrea is fair-minded and searching in his appraisal of the tragedy which beset a group of 26 men in the Sonora Desert in May 2001 most of whom were from Vera Cruz and Guerrero. While remaining suspcicious of American and Mexican immigration policies and the border officers who apply them, he nonetheless does not fall into kneejerk stereotyping. They, like most who work in or for government bodies, are caught between festering popular political rage, skewed immigration policies and the reality of the people's lives with whom they must contend each day. In Urrea's depiction many of the border officials are far more humane than those political or economic actors who are responsible for designing the policies in the first place.
Urrea's true rage is unleashed towards the conclusion at the international economic actors and the forces they unleash, political leaders for whom immigration is simply another issue to score cheap political points and univocal America firsters and their ilk who fail to comprehend the depths of the problem. Measuring the tragedy of human lives lost in mere dollars (and inaccurate figures on top of that!) is profane in the true sense of that word.
Reading "The Devil's Highway" only leads me to support responsible efforts to find common ground on institutional levels which lead to the demise of "the border" as a meaningful political entity.
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