The devil's highway A true story

Luis Alberto Urrea

Book - 2014

Describes the attempt of twenty-six men to cross the Mexican border into the desert of southern Arizona, a region known as the Devil's Highway, detailing their harrowing ordeal and battle for survival against impossible odds. Only 12 men came back out.

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Subjects
Genres
Creative nonfiction
Published
New York, NY : Back Bay Books [2014]
Language
English
Item Description
"Originally published in hardcover by Little, Brown and Company, April 2004"--Title page verso.
Includes index.
Includes reading group guide, afterword copyright 2014.
Physical Description
xvi, 255, 24 pages : maps ; 21 cm
Bibliography
Includes index.
ISBN
9780316010801
0316010804
Main Author
Luis Alberto Urrea (author)
  • Cutting the drag: Rules of the game
  • Dead man's sign: In Veracruz ; Coyote and the chicken ; El guía ; Jesús walks among us ; In Sonoita ; Pepsi for the apocalypse ; Bad step at bluebird ; Killed by the light
  • In desolation: Long walk ; Their names ; Broken promise ; Trees and the sun ; Helicopters
  • Aftermath: Aftermath ; Home.
Review by Booklist Reviews

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. ((Reviewed March 1, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In 2001, 26 men crossed the Mexican border, traveling along Arizona's deadly "Devil's Highway"; fewer than half came out alive. An award-winning author reconstructs the event. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

This is a book about death and dying along the Mexico-Arizona border-the Devil's Highway. It is not a simple book but instead a powerful account of 26 men from Veracruz, Mexico, who tried to enter the United States illegally in May 2001; 14 died in the Southwest desert as a consequence. Urrea (Wandering Times; Across the Wire) tells the story in the vernacular, adding to the impact of a tragedy that could have been averted. All of the men fell victim to the scalding sun and to dehydration, but the real culprits were the "coyotes" (or middle men) who recruited the Mexicans, taking their money with a promise of jobs in Los Estados Unidos, and the runners who led the crossing. Twelve of the men survived, providing Urrea with testimony of what has been a serious problem in Mexican-U.S. relations-exacerbated by the events of 9/11. Highly recommended for all libraries.-Boyd Childress, Auburn Univ. Lib., AL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

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 Award-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 others whom the media labeled the Yuma 14 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 mélange 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. (Apr. 2) Forecast: Urrea has received coverage for his previous writing projects in numerous arts-related publications and has a loyal fan base. A six-city author tour and radio interviews will expand his audience further. The book has been optioned as the debut movie of Tucson-based Creative Dreams Inc. and is scheduled to begin filming in October 2004. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Describes the attempt of twenty-six men to cross the Mexican border into the desert of southern Arizona, a region known as the Devil's Highway, detailing their harrowing ordeal and battle for survival against impossible odds.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Describes the harrowing May 2001 attempt of twenty-six men to cross the Mexican border into the desert of southern Arizona, a region known as the Devil's Highway, detailing their harrowing ordeal and battle for survival against impossible odds on a trek that cost fourteen lives. Reprint. 20,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

From a Pulitzer Prize finalist, "the single most compelling, lucid, and lyrical contemporary account of the absurdity of U.S. border policy" (The Atlantic). In May 2001, a group of men attempted to cross the Mexican border into the desert of southern Arizona, through the deadliest region of the continent, the "Devil's Highway." Three years later, Luis Alberto Urrea wrote about what happened to them. The result was a national bestseller, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a "book of the year" in multiple newspapers, and a work proclaimed as a modern American classic.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

From the Pulitzer Prize finalist, "the single most compelling, lucid, and lyrical contemporary account of the absurdity of U.S. border policy" (The Atlantic). In May 2001, a group of men attempted to cross the Mexican border into the desert of southern Arizona, through the deadliest region of the continent, the "Devil's Highway." Three years later, Luis Alberto Urrea wrote about what happened to them. The result was a national bestseller, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a "book of the year" in multiple newspapers, and a work proclaimed as a modern American classic.