The harrowing story of the extraordinary terror unfolding along the US-Mexico border - this is the secret war of drugs, gangs and guns that is destroying thousands of lives.
Ed Vulliamy is a journalist and writes for the Guardian and Observer. He has been shortlisted for an Amnesty International Media Award for his reporting on Mexico. For his work in Bosnia, Italy, the US and Iraq he has won a James Cameron Award and an Amnesty International Media Award and has been named International Reporter of the Year (twice) and runner-up at the Foreign Press Association Awards. In 1996 he became the first journalist to ever testify at an international crimes court, at the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia. A believer in the duty of journalists to testify in matters of humanitarian law, he has since lectured extensively on the subject.
Vulliamy (former correspondent, The Observer, UK) spent decades reporting from the volatile U.S.-Mexico border. In 2009, he set out on a journey from San Diego, CA/Tijuana, Mexico, to Brownsville, TX/Matamoros, Mexico, in order to understand better this vast borderland. Through his travels, we meet some of the people who inhabit both sides of the boundary: innocents who struggle to survive everyday against a backdrop of poor prospects and raging violence; politicians, police and military who either struggle against the drug violence or are complicit in it; reporters who must balance risking their lives against fair and honest journalism; and the victims of all the violence, living and dead, and those who struggle to preserve their memories. Vulliamy writes as a war correspondent, covering a "post-political" war, with each casualty appearing more senseless than the one previous. VERDICT This is a compelling look at the growing problems along the southwestern borderland. Its problems grab headlines daily and will likely continue for the foreseeable future. Recommended for all interested readers and all libraries where there is a strong interest in border and immigration issues.-Mike Miller, Austin P.L., TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This engrossing travelogue traces the fraught Mexican-American border, where the collision of affluence and poverty is mediated by an ultraviolent narco-traficante culture. Vulliamy (Seasons in Hell) journeys from Tijuana, where the ruthless Arellano Felix Organization cartel battles rivals, to the Atlantic coast, where the even more ruthless Zetas cartel, armed with grenades and rocket launchers, battles the Mexican army and besieges whole cities. In the middle is Juarez, the world's most violent town, an anarchy of contending cartels, street gangs, and their police and military allies, where massacres, beheadings, and grisly sex murders are routine. Vulliamy's border isn't all drugs and killings; it's also narco-corrida songs that celebrate drugs and killings, the American gun industry that feeds off drug money and enables the killings, and a presiding quasi-Catholic cult of Santissima Muerte (holiest death). The author's take isn't entirely coherent. Sometimes the border is the problem, an artificial rupture that provokes turf battles over prime smuggling sites; sometimes, presented less persuasively, the lawless border is just a symptom of global capitalism, like the desperate illegal immigrants and exploited maquiladora workers (in foreign-owned low-wage factories along the border) he profiles. Although not especially deep, Vulliamy's is a vivid, disturbing dispatch from a very wild frontier. (Oct.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
Amexica is fascinating, infuriating and inspiring.
Essential reading -- Don Winslow, author of The Power of the
A work of vivid social reportage * Spectator *
A harrowing read about the narcowars in Mexico, economic exploitation and the horrors of the globalised drug trade -- Fatima Bhutto * New Statesman *
Previously, to understand the ruthlessness, ambition and impact of today's global criminals, you needed to read Roberto Saviano's Gomorrah and Misha Glenny's McMafia. Now, you also need to read Vulliamy's Amexica * Sunday Times *
The most vivid book so far published in English on the bloody calamity that has been visited on Mexico's northern border lands -- Hugh O'Shaughnessy * Observer *