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Devil's Highway

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  4,458 ratings  ·  779 reviews
The author of "Across the Wire" offers brilliant investigative reporting of what went wrong when, in May 2001, a group of 26 men attempted to cross the Mexican border into the desert of southern Arizona. Only 12 men came back out. "Superb . . . Nothing less than a saga on the scale of the Exodus and an ordeal as heartbreaking as the Passion . . . The book comes vividly ali ...more
ebook, 200 pages
Published November 16th 2008 by Little, Brown & Company (first published January 1st 2004)
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of all the books i've read on the subject, this is the best. the story itself is harrowing, of course, and urrea is one hell of a writer. rather than tell a linear story of the 26 mexicans who walked across the devil's highway (only 12 lived to tell the tale), he offers a kaleidoscopic view of the whole machine: border patrol, mexican gangsters, coyotes, arizona, texas, vera cruz, the rio grande, sonora, and the eyeball-drying life-taking sweat-sucking scorching terrible terrible terrible dantea ...more
D. Pow
This a great book, one of the best I’ve read this year. It hits you in the head, makes you think hard about the events conveyed between its pages, but it packs an even harder emotional wallop. I felt such sadness and fierce heartache for the 26 men who stumbled into the Devil’s Highway and the brutal loss of the 14 who didn’t make it and the tortuous way they stumbled, for hour on endless hour, into the ultimately merciful embrace of death.

Urrea has a poet’s gift for language, alternating long,
I was working with the Border Patrol at the time of this story. It is a very effective presentation of how people are smuggled across the Arizona border from Mexico. It is also effective at showing how to die in the desert. You will feel empathy for the migrants. You will see the day to day life of the Border Patrol. They are not who they are often presented as. With this you will identify how dysfunctional policy is with regard to the Southwest Border... I'm a fan of sealed borders and liberal ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This is as good as it gets if you want a short but comprehensive examination of the issues surrounding our porous border with Mexico. All viewpoints are represented, and with surprisingly little bias on the part of the author. As a Mexican American, Urrea admits to an initial bias against the Border Patrol, or "Pinche Migra." His investigation changed his mind, and he presents them in a favorable light.

Urrea uses one well-publicized 2001 tragedy to illustrate the complexities and absurdities of
Investigative journalism that reads like the best fiction... Urrea writes a fascinating, disturbing, and tragic account of the Yuma 14. In May of 2001, a group of 26 people got lost in the Arizona desert while attempting to crossthe border, and only 12 survived. I decided to read the book after hearing Urrea speak here in Bloomington. In person, he was an amazing story teller, and explained the process of writing the devil's highway. I learned a lot about the politics and geography of the border ...more
If hell really existed, it would likely look like the Devil’s Highway in southern Arizona – an area so harsh and unforgiving that even the Border Patrol is afraid to travel through it.

In May 2001, 26 Mexican men attempted to cross the Mexican border after gifting the Coyotes – human smugglers – with just about every peso they have. And then their journey goes terribly wrong. “They didn’t carry enough water. Can there ever be enough water? Probably not. But the Popielas carried a couple of those
If you're interested in learning more about the Mexican border in a balanced way, this is an excellent and brutally honest book by a reporter who writes with a poet's touch. We get fed so much propaganda on immigration, from populist politicians and sensationalized media (both sides), that it's easy to form strong opinions on complex issues, of which we barely understand. We demonize those who don't fit inside our own core group's noble mythology. We create bugbears out of our own insecurities. ...more
The Devil's Highway, is a pretty good book. Urrea sees no sacred cows - except for perhaps the poor individuals who dare to cross over to the U.S. Urrea's border landscape is murderous one, and the "Coyotes" that lead the illegals across are predators and gangsters. It's all about money. Urrea does his best to give each of those who suffered through the 2001 ordeal (the Yuma 14 (those that died), or Wellton 26 (the entire party), take your pick), faces, lives, hopes. They are people, and not jus ...more
Feb 11, 2008 Chata rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chata by: Mayor's Book Club of Austin
Desgraciadamente, este libro es magnífico. Digo ''desgraciadamente'' porque es una verdadera historia de un grupo que inmigrantes que muere en el desierto de Arizona. Como soy de Tucson, Arizona, este libro me atrayó inmediatemente y cuando supe que iba a ser el libro escogido por el alcalde de Austin. He tenido el placer de oir hablar dos veces el autor, Luis Alberto Urrea, y es obvio que él hizo sus estudios para preparar el manuscrito para este libro. Es muy talentoso además; hay que leer sus ...more
Dean Hamilton
The Devil's Highway, El Camino del Diablo, lies sere, bleak , arid and forbidding, a calescent trail across the Mexican-US border for illegals seeking salvation and opportunity in the north.

The Devil's Highway is the true story of a group of 26 Mexican illegals who crossed the US-Mexican border heading through the desert for Ajo, Arizona on May 19th, 2001. By May 25th, only 12 came out.

Luis Alberto Urrea's book is a powerful piece of work. Urrea can sling a phrase with the best of them, weaving
Apr 13, 2010 Jakob rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in border crossing and immigration, people who just like to read books
Recommended to Jakob by: Dr. Adriann Wycoff
Shelves: for-school
Much like the wandering, doubling back trail the walkers of this tragic story navigated, Urrea's storytelling weaves and twists, backwards and forwards. Abrupt tense-shifts, sections (and sometimes only sentences) of second-person narrative, meant to draw the reader in, only serve to jar this reader into wondering when he became a border patrol agent and why he doesn't remember doing so.

Toward the end of the book, it's clear Urrera has much more to say, and like the walkers that survive the jou
May 19, 2007 Lis rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this book while on a visit to Salt Lake City. Until it was done, I did not look up as we drove around town, and did not contribute to conversations with our friends there. I just sat and read, until it was done. Like "Morir en el intento", it is a real tragedy that happened as a group tried to cross the desert into the US. Unlike that other book though, this doesn't read like a newspaper as much. The author weaves us in and out of the story of the journey itself, using what the survivors ...more
Jan 17, 2013 Jennifer rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone whose ancestors immigrated to the US
Recommended to Jennifer by: CLC & Dave Groeninger
This book was chosen by CLC for our book discussion group during orientation week. The college hopes to bring Luis Alberto Urrea to campus in April. This book tells the story of the Yuma 14 (which we later learn should be more aptly titled the Wellton 23), a group of men from southern Mexico who are led by two Coyotes across the border into the Arizona dessert, an area aptly titled "The Devil's Highway." A number of events and decisions lead to the men getting hopelessly lost and basically "cook ...more
If there was any doubt about the desperation, rigor and catastrophe involved in crossing the US/Mexican border illegally, Urrea puts it to rest here. A gut-wrenchingly visceral reconstruction of a 2001 border-crossing gone bad, this book examines the forces that made it happen in the first place. The story is crushing, of course, and Urrea spares nothing in highlighting its tragic dimensions. The style is intentionally inflammatory, which many claim makes it a powerful read that is really well w ...more
Thing Two
This story should be mandatory reading for those involved in any discussion about repealing the 14th Amendment, especially Senator Lindsey Graham. Urrea writes about 26 men who attempted to cross into the US through an especially dangerous part of the Sonoran desert known as The Devil's Highway. Of the 26 who entered the United States in early 2001, only 14 survived. The rest perished in temperatures that soared to the 130s as they ambled east, then west, then north, then south. Urrea's non-line ...more
ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL. I have lived most of my life near the Mexican border, growing up in El Paso, now living most of my adult life in San Antonio. The "issue" of immigration is one I have always been very aware of (just saying it pisses me off, who the hell is not an immigrant? The entire human race has been on the move for greener grass since its existence). This book shows all sides, tells the story, and does it well. I had to unclench my jaw several times, unaware of the anger that was makin ...more
Kendal Washington White
A true story regarding the attempted illegal entry of 20+ Mexican citizens into Arizona/U.S., the author skillfully recounts the story from multiple perspectives. This book is a must-read for all who are concerned about border/illegal immigration issues, regardless of what side you are on. Urea helps us to understand that the issues are quite complex. We use the book as a common read for a student success class at The University of Arizona, and this book produces more dialogue and debate among i ...more
This is the true story of what it means to attempt an illegal border crossing. At each page, I could nod and agree, as I have heard the stories personally. I recommend the book to all people prejudiced against undocumented workers; the story details why they come, how they suffer and the odds they face. Some of the descriptions of death in the desert are horrible; everyone needs to understand the struggle, the betrayal by "coyotes" and their leaders, and the bravery of men and women who attempt ...more
Guadalupe Salgado
The Devil’s Highway, written by Luis Alberto Urrea, is a true story about Mexican migration into the United States. It retells the tragic story from May of 2001 when a group of men attempted to cross the U.S. border. After entering the desert of Arizona, they endured the deadliest region in North America, the Devil’s Highway. Twenty-six men entered the region, and only twelve people survived. Urrea focuses on the individual subjects and the circumstances that brought them to make the decision to ...more
Capitalism reduces everything to money and profit, including human lives.
I have been thinking about US drug policy and immigration policy since reading "The Devil's Highway."
The book reads like an extended magazine article, endlessly fascinating and horrifying.
After you read the book, watch the YouTube video of "Stolen at Gunpoint" sung by Tijuana No! and Kid Frost which is quoted in Chapter 5.
This was a book challenge read. I would have never picked this up on my own, but I'm glad I did. I wasn't sure what this was going to be about, and about 20 pages into it, I thought I was going to dislike it, because to my dismay, it seemed to be about the Devil's Highway and what it looked like, what kind of plants were around, and other such details. I thought, "Please no."

This book is a true story about border crossing from Mexico into the U.S. The author did his research and reported a speci
This was an excellent book on border crossings and horrifying as well. I can still see in my mind's eyes the mummified bodies of those who tried to cross the borders with just a cola in their hands, thinking it was just a short trip to America.
Holy crap this book pisses me off...
Well-written account of the horrible tragedy of the Yuma 14. Reminiscent of Krakauer's Into Thin Air. Urrea is a phenomenal writer - the text is engaging and poetic. It's well-researched; its apparent that no stone was left unturned and perspectives of all involved were explored. It highlights the tragic and horrifying story of a few that perish on their path to the American Dream, but brings attention to all of those forgotten and the political and institutional barriers to the Dream. Highly su ...more
If you are concerned or curious about what is going on along the border between the Mexico and the United States, this book fills in with some excellent practical detail the reality of issues there, as distinct from the distilled opinions of pundits on both the "right" and the "left." There may be other similar books (and Urrea lists some recommended further reading at the end), so in that sense Devil's Highway may not be a "must read" but a book like Devil's Highway is a must read, and so I rec ...more
So many in the US complain about illegal immigrants, while forgetting that their ancestors once came to this country uninvited. And most of those who come, now, really don't want to; they have family back home and many of them can't find jobs, because the American corporations have pulled out and left few jobs and those that are available are worse than minimum wage here. Sadly, many of those who try to come to the US die in their search for a better life for them and their families.

This exposes
I finished this today between bouts of painting the house, so the following are my initial reactions to the book.

Obviously, the road for illegal workers from Mexico and points more distant is physically difficult. For the subjects of this book, it proved impossible. Some died, others came close and one remains in an Arizona prison forever. I leave it conflicted about illegal immigration. The plight of illegal workers and other people who, by the lottery of birth, live in poverty while on the ste
I was drawn to this book because of my interest in Mexican immigrants, particularly illegal immigrants, having worked with a number of them back in Texas. Also compelling was the fact that it takes place in Southern Arizona in an area I have driven through multiple times, praying that the truck wouldn't break down.

Written in the grand tradition of muckraker journalism, the writer describes in vivid detail the deaths of 14 men in the desert after a botched Coyote run. I have no recollection of t
Kate Z
I'm not much of a non-fiction reader but I wanted to read this book because a) I live in San Diego so the topic is "close" to me, b) I read Into the Beautiful North a few months ago and loved it and c) because I heard Luis Alberto Urrea speak and he is such a dynamic speaker that when he made reference to this particular book I had to read it. Unfortunately the book is not quite a dynamic as he is.

Luis Alberto Urrea has a clear love and respect for humanity. This is a balanced story which uses "
This is the story of how 14 Mexican immigrants that tried to cross the U.S/Mexico border were essentially led to their deaths through the tragic arrogance of their guide (or Coyote). It is a story buried in half-truths, conflicting view points, and criss-crossed finger-pointing. Urrea sheds much needed light on the Border Patrol, a scapegoat government agency that is largely misunderstood. And out of this horrofic folly, he extracts a certain kind of peace for those that died (and continue to di ...more
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  • By the Lake of Sleeping Children
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  • Coyotes: A Journey Through the Secret World of America's Illegal Aliens
  • First Stop in the New World: Mexico City, the Capital of the 21st Century
  • Down by the River: Drugs, Money, Murder, and Family
  • The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands
  • Occupied America: A History of Chicanos
  • Enrique's Journey: The Story of a Boy's Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother
  • Drink Cultura: Chicanismo
  • Ruins
  • Working in the Shadows: A Year of Doing the Jobs (Most) Americans Won't Do
  • Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America
  • Loverboys
  • Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives (Voice of Witness)
  • Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter's Journey Through a Country's Descent into Darkness
  • Going Back to Bisbee
  • They Take Our Jobs!: And 20 Other Myths about Immigration
  • The Global Class War: How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future - and What It Will Take to Win It Back
Luis Alberto Urrea is the award-winning author of 13 books, including The Hummingbird's Daughter, The Devil's Highway and Into the Beautiful North (May 2009). Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and American mother, Luis has used the theme of borders, immigration and search for love and belonging throughout his work. A Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2005 (nonfiction), he's won the Kiriyama Prize (2006 ...more
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“What we take from granted in the United States as being Mexican, to those from southern Mexico, is almost completely foreign. Rural Mexicans don't have the spare money to drown their food in melted cheese. They don't smother their food in mounds of sour cream. Who would pay for it? They have never seen "nachos." In some regions of the south, they eat soup with bananas; some tribal folks not far from Veracruz eat termite tacos; turkey, when there are turkeys, is not filled with "stuffing"―but with dry pineapples, papaya, pecans. Meat is killed behind the house, or it is bought, dripping and flyblown, off a wooden plank in the village market. They eat cheeks, ears, feet, tails, lips, fried blood, intestines filled with curdled milk. Southerners grew up eating corn tortillas, and they never varied in their diet. You find them eating food the Aztecs once ate. Flour tortillas, burritos, chimichangas―it's foreign food to them, invented on the border.
They were alliens before they ever crossed the line.”
“If it was the Border Patrol’s job to apprehend lawbreakers, it was equally their duty to save the lost and the dying.” 1 likes
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