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Amexica: War Along the Borderline

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  398 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
Amexica is the harrowing story of the extraordinary terror unfolding along the U.S.-Mexico border—“a country in its own right, which belongs to both the United States and Mexico, yet neither”—as the narco-war escalates to a fever pitch there.

In 2009, after reporting from the border for many years, Ed Vulliamy traveled the frontier from the Pacific coast to the Gulf of Mexi
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 26th 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published October 7th 2010)
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Jan 03, 2011 Scott rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Picking up Amexica: War Along the Borderline by journalist Ed Vulliamy, I was initially excited, thinking here might be an accessible book by a veteran journalist capable of explaining to the English-speaking public just what is going on in Mexico and why. Naïve, I know. My suspicions were raised as early as the second paragraph when the author mistranslated the extremely common Spanish-language sign-off Atte: as Look out. Atte: is actually an abbreviation of Atentamente, simply meaning Sincerel ...more
Nov 24, 2010 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my "beach" read for our Thanksgiving vacation to Florida. I was so thoroughly engrossed I barely remember any details from our holiday. This fascinating, angering and heartbreaking report is very well researched and written, and the author/reporter so well versed and caring so much about the subject matter that I began an instant obsession with the region as well as its (our) vexing issues.

Ed Vulliamy is wise to trace the root of the problem beyond America's drug addiction and subseque
Jan 29, 2011 Margo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: frontera, mexico
An unfortunate title for an amazing tour of the multitudinous factors involved in the current border crisis. Framed historically, developed specifically for understanding the status of the border in 2010.

Introduction - Defining the unique nature of the borderland and the rise of violence associated with narcotrafficking.

1. La Plaza - A survey of the system of narco and the history of the players—both individuals and the various cartels. Growing official recognition of the extent of corruption a
Feb 05, 2012 Emilie rated it it was ok
So far my main goal is to try to get over how many spelling mistakes there are in the Spanish and focus on what Vulliamy is saying. It is difficult given I am still only at the prologue and I've tallied 14 mistakes so far which is frankly embarrassing for Vintage. Hopefully it won't get worse (though clearly it will) and I will be able to get through Amexica without hurtling it across the room unfinished. Here's to hoping... ages later I've finished. My verdict is that this book is little
Mar 07, 2011 Natasha rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Fantastic read and a really important book - everybody should read it and be aware of the atrocities happening everyday in Mexico.

Love the very poignant closing line by Munoz the Tijuana pathologist: "I live like a man who sits eating a delicious taco on the street there, aware that every moment could be his last. One bullet, and he is dead."
Aug 27, 2013 Nils rated it liked it
A well-informed piece of travelogue/reportage of the literally torturous history of the US – Mexico border in the era of the War on Drugs. It captures well the way in which the simple stories of opposition between nefarious drug lords and virtuous Mexican government is blatant misrepresentation. On the contrary, there has long been a series of not very cozy condominia between various drug cartels and both local and national factions of the Mexican government. The most important aspect of the boo ...more
Jul 04, 2012 J. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book (mostly) about the drug war raging on the U.S.-México border. All aspects are covered, including the army's and policy fight against and (often) complicit involvement with the narcos, the war's effect on immigration, the recent involvement of Native border tribes in the issue, the complicity of the maquiladoras in providing the grounds for recruitment, the complicity of the U.S. in regards to easy availability of weapons, the lack of interest in "following the money", etc. The boo ...more
Jul 18, 2011 Jim rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, non-fiction
A literally shocking non-fiction account of the drugs war raging on the Mexican American border, and the breakdown of society that this is in turn promoting. The book starts in a fairly dry way, but soon becomes a gripping dialogue for the dead as the atrocities and breakdown of society are catalogued through accounts from not only the people trying to address the problems, but also from the bereaved, the addicted, the detritus of this burnt out society that still functions despite itself. Soon ...more
Sheree Crawford
Feb 04, 2016 Sheree Crawford rated it liked it
Though I can't comment on Vulliamy's translations of Spanish (which there seems to be some issue with, according to other, more knowledgeable, reviewers) I still rate this book as a solid one. It's an attempt at an understanding of the current state (at the time of writing) of the Mexican/American borderlands, and it's a pretty good one if you have no prior knowledge (which I didn't).

It has its flaws, sure, and it's definitely not a comprehensive tome, or a history of how the borders came to be
Apr 20, 2014 Tomasz rated it it was amazing
Ten pokaźny reportaż zdobył Nagrodę im. Ryszarda Kapuścińskiego. Absolutnie zasłużenie. Vulliamy pokazał życie na granicy meksykańsko-amerykańskiej i trudno rzec, czy dobrze, że to zrobił. Łatwo tutaj utracić wiarę w państwo, instytucje władzy, policję etc. Obraz wojen narkotykowych, które pustoszą Meksyk budzi nie mniejsze przerażenie niż realistyczne reportaże z afgańskich pól bitewnych. Kartele uzbrojone w broń automatyczną i granatniki, meksykańskie jednostki specjalne przechodzące na stronę ...more
Dave Mccormick
Jul 12, 2016 Dave Mccormick rated it liked it
A point in time review of events along the U.S-Mexico border during some of the worst of the narcotics related violence. From the gruesome open warfare in Tijuana and Nuevo Laredo to the calm but chilling repression in Matamoros (which has seen escalating violence since this was written) Vulliamy sympathizes with the Mexican citizens who have gotten caught up in all the chaos. The book details the rise of the various cartels, the various territorial fights that shift along the border and the eno ...more
Jan 02, 2014 Nat rated it it was ok
I couldn't get into this one at all. There were some interesting tidbits of information, but the book never really gets down to brass tacks. I wanted to educate myself on the Mexican drug war, but with this book I suppose I should have been expecting more of a travelogue than a lesson. It did have some chilling and informative stuff, but Vulliamy's writing put me to sleep more than once. I never felt the presence of any of the people he was meeting or the places he was describing. All in all, I ...more
Matthew Griffiths
this is a fascinating account of a journey through one of modern histories most unusual conflict zones, the US-Mexican border during the conflicts between states and drug cartels. right from the start this book does a great deal to dispel the supposed glamour of organised crime and show just how much damage these groups have wrought all along the borderline. another very interesting element to this book is the argument that is central to much of the story of the cartels whilst criminal mirroring ...more
Jan 23, 2016 Ann rated it it was amazing
Read this if you have any interest at all in Mexico, the Southwest, immigration and drug policy, or just want to be a better-informed citizen and human. It is compassionate, infuriating, engrossing, informative, and altogether readable. I cannot recommend it highly enough for people who want to know more than their Fox-watching, hate-spewing kith and kin. Vulliamy is obviously at a loss for clear-cut solutions and bromides, but he brings the populations and challenges on both sides of the border ...more
Del Johnstone
Jul 08, 2015 Del Johnstone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent read. Sometimes these kind of books can be a bit on the dry side but Vulliamy does a great job of bringing to raw, desperate life the people he talks to and the places he describes. My interest in the whole War on Drugs subject had been sparked initially by reading Sam Hawken's 'The Dead Women of Juarez' and then the magnificent 'The Power of the Dog' by Don Winslow; but this book shows that nothing in fiction is as shocking as the events that now pass for daily life in the north of ...more
Dec 26, 2011 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, latin-america
Essential background reading for those who want to understand the US-Mexico border, for example to read Bolano's 2666 or much of Cormac McCarthy. Inevitably repetitive about the scale of the killings, the dominance of the different drugs cartels, and the omnipresence of migration from south to north. Vulliamy's wider point, which is that what happens on this border is a foretaste of things to come on a much bigger scale, is well made, and all the more frightening for that. McCarthy's The Road: h ...more
May 24, 2016 Piotr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nie, to nie jest aż tak dobra książka. Czwarta gwiazdka za niezwykle rzetelną robotę na samym meksykańskim pograniczu, za masę przeczytanych źródeł, za uczciwość i bezwzględną szczerość.
Pozycja obowiązkowa szczególnie dla"Polonusów", których oburzają po równo, zabierający im pracę czarni i Meksykanie, Hindusi czy Wietnamczycy. Warto wiedzieć, czemu nie mogli żyć u siebie. Przed czym i kim musieli uciekać.
Bolesna i cholernie przygnębiająca lektura. Żadnej nadzieji, żadnej jasnej perspektywy.
Jun 23, 2011 Sian rated it really liked it
Well researched and excellent account of the situation along the border. I have read quite a few books on this region which were written from a feminist perspective and was intrigued by Vulliamy's analysis in relation to the rise of neo-liberlaism and the impact of market forces on the region.
Highly recommended.
While the name of the book is somewhat deplorable, even so, this book has some of the best investigative journalism about the cartels and migration published in the English language and contains many passages that are striking in their discoveries. Beyond that the book serves as a summarization and analysis of works by many other border authors such as Bowden and Urrea.
Jun 10, 2011 Shawn rated it liked it
It's shocking. I find it fascinating, our border with Mexico, parially because this area is so close-by. Ultimately though, I just need to stop reading books about our murderous border region, U.S. factories in Mexico paying low wages to desperate poor people whose lives seem very difficult, and books about drug cartels. It is too sad. But like a train wreck, I can't look away.
May 04, 2012 Keli rated it really liked it
eye-opening about border life, drug war, political ties from both countries, consumer's moral responsibility when buying any product that may be made by a company that manufactures overseas.

fascinating how bank crisis and money laundering linked to drug lords and how banking system and wall street are covering that up.
Mar 25, 2012 Christoph rated it liked it
A good primer on cartel violence circa 2010 and the unique nature of the border region. As a british author, he sometimes speaks in great generalities about a landscape and culture that's pretty familiar to most Americans on a basic level, and it's in these places that the book bogs down a little bit.
Dec 10, 2010 Carsten rated it it was amazing
an absolutely amazing book. the NYT review complaint it didn't offer solutions, but what it did was show the full extend of the US/Mexico border problems, how they are intertwined and how complex the issues are ... ranging from the basic narco-war issues and illegal immigration (the headline stories) to all the smaller stories that don't get reported to the cultural foundations of the region.
Nov 16, 2012 Chris rated it did not like it
Disappointing. This author is very stiff. Seeing as he is talking about a lawless environment, I expected it to be a lot more wild. I feel like he was trying to scare you with stories of these people, but I just ended up being bored.
Sep 08, 2011 Tlegge rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm drudgingly pushing through this. I love the reality and documentation of events that Vulliamy brings to the issue, but it lacks emotion to some degree. I'm having a hard time getting through it with comfort.
Feb 25, 2016 Dobromiła rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, kindle
Mnóstwo informacji na raz (liczb, nazwisk, wydarzeń) momentami dosyć chaotycznie podanych, z nagłymi przejściami z jednego wątku do drugiego, ale książka i tak wciąga, zaskakuje, chwilami przeraża i dobrze się czyta.
Mar 19, 2016 Natalia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wstrząsająca i przez większość czasu odpychająca lektura, nie tylko ze względu na opisywane okrucieństwa, ale również na rolę jaką w całym biznesie narkotykowym odgrywa USA i światowy system bankowy.
Read it while on vacation in Mexico. This is a very interesting read. There are some pretty disturbing passages in this book. It's a well constructed essay on the problems of the US-Mexico border.
Jul 25, 2011 Matthew rated it it was amazing
Reading this book gives living in a border state a new perspective. Excellent read!
Nov 19, 2010 Danielle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, nonfiction
My newest odd fascination is with the war on the Mexican-American border. A great book. I need to read something more cheerful next...
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“Gloria Anzaldúa, who revolutionised the Chicana writing of her generation, called the border ‘una herida abierta – an open wound – where the Third World grates against the First and bleeds. And before a scab forms, it haemorrhages again, the lifeblood of two countries merging to form a third country – a border culture.” 1 likes
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