The Devils Highway: A True Story Paperback – 2 Mar 2006
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In a new 10th anniversary edition: "The single most compelling, lucid, and lyrical contemporary account of the absurdity of U.S. border policy" (The Atlantic).
About the Author
Luis Alberto Urrea is the author of several award-winning books inc. The Hummingbird's Daughter and Into the Beautiful North. His many prizes include and Edgar and he's also the recipient of a citation of excellence from the American Library Association. He is a member of the Latino Literary Hall of Fame
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
The book deals with the background to such journeys; the poverty that inspires them; the expoitative organizations in Mexico who profit from them; the economic systems which trigger migrant needs; the border guards who try to stop the migrants, and all the other factors. But in the main it is a reconstruction of the preparations and the terrible journey of the lost in the scalding desert, who, betrayed and abandoned by their "coyotes" - guides - stumble on in dwindling numbers until at last a few survivors of the furnace are seen and saved by the guards who roam the desert landscapes looking for "illegals."
"The Devil's Highway" is easy to read, gripping and not at all preachy, while having a heart of anger and compassion which I found moving and fierce.
A tremendous amount of research must have gone into this account, and Urrea has woven it all into a terrifically powerful narrative. His description of the desert heat and the thirst and what it can do to human beings is unforgettable: "You dream of pools, seas, you dream of a lake and you dream of drinking the whole thing dry as you soak. You'd pay all your money for cold water. You'd trade sex, anything for water. Walkers who find abandoned vehicles break open the radiators and die from gulping the antifreeze...."
In one of the quoted reviews inside this widely acclaimed book, it is compared to John Krakauer's "Into Thin Air" - an excellent account of chaotic ascent of Everest by two rival groups in 1996, which led to the death of one of the climbers.Read more ›