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Border Crosser: One Gringo's Illicit Passage from Mexico into America
by Johnny Rico
Johnny Rico is back. After risking his life as an Afghanistan stop-loss soldier, an experience he described in the cult phenomenon Blood Makes the Grass Grow Green, he now dares to embed himself on both sides of America’s most dangerous domestic conflict–the war for and against illegal immigration–in an exhilarating new exercise in immersion journalism.
The gonzo author–par ...more
The gonzo author–par ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published June 23rd 2009 by Ballantine Books
(first published 2009)
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I was disappointed with this book. It's more about the author's journey than the journey of the people of Mexico who are trying to reach America. There aren't many stories about the Mexicans here, there are more about the racist Minutemen groups who patrol the border and stop Mexicans from entering. Rico did try (in a half-assed way) to infiltrate a group of Mexicans entering the US but instead the book became about his obsession than the real story about the Mexicans. For me, this wasn't very i ...more
Johnny Rico’s Border Crosser is somewhat anti-climactic. The premise of this book is that Rico was going to attempt to cross the U.S./Mexico border, as well as visit various groups such as the Minutemen, Border Patrol, and open border activists. I figured that’d take a good chunk of the book but that the rest would focus on his journey from Mexico into the U.S. I was wrong. Rico tries over and over (and over) to find an “appropriate” place to cross, but always manages to find a reason not to. I ...more
John Rico writes a documentary that is a bit of a tease. He explores all the sides of the immigration issue. He lives with the Minutemen, rides with the Border Patrol and border police, and wants to make an illegal border crossing but never seems to make it. Some good characters are met along the way, but the border crossing never really happens and left me not sure if most of that angle was just BS.
Having grown up on the Mexican Border, I really wanted to love this book. But Johnny Rico needs to give up his delusion of being a gonzo journalist, a title that really only ever applied to the late Hunter Thompson. Told without that literary pretention, this would be an interesting narrative about those who cross the border illegally, how and why they do it, and how the people of the USA respond.
I couldn't finish this book. Johnny Rico presents himself as a liberal, but I found him to be just as racist and judgmental as the Minute Men he was following during the first parts of the story. His repeated insistence on using the term "illegal" was frustrating as well, and his portrait of the women who maintain the water tanks in the Arizona desert was condescending at best.
The author's goal in this book was to illegally cross the border from Mexico to the USA as a gringo. He met with vigilante border watchers, migrant sympathizers, and law enforcement. This was a good book that I would recommend to those, like me, who like books about the underbelly of America.