The Devil's Highway : A Review

In this work of grave beauty and searing power - one of the most widely praised pieces of investigative reporting to appear in recent years - we follow twenty-six men who in May 2001 attempted to cross the Mexican border into the desert of southern Arizona, through the deadly region known as the Devil's Highway, a desert so harsh and desolate that even the Border Patrol is afraid to travel through it, a place that for hundreds of years has stolen men's souls and swallowed their blood. Only twelve of the men made it out.

I will preface this review by saying that prior to picking up this book I did not have any strong feelings about illegal immigration. It was one of those hot-button political issues I never paid a lot of attention too because I didn't feel like it directly effected me in any way. I still don't know where I would stand politically on the issues, but I am pretty sure it would be something like - let's make it easier to be legal.

This book was graphic, gruesome, and eye-opening in so many ways. Generally non-fiction books tend to bore me. I prefer to escape reality, but the reality that Urrea presented was so far from anything I know it seemed like fiction. A fictional horror story.

Urrea's writing style made it so easy to follow along in the ghostly footsteps of those twenty-six men along their terrifying journey. It started out so simple - men wanting to come to Los Estados Unidos to make a little money to better their lives - most of them planning to return to Mexico after a few months work. The guides got lost. They ran out of water.

The book shows us different perspectives; the men in the dessert, the guide, the Border Patrol, the Coyotes (men herders), and even the men after death. So much extravagance to fly the men home, send them in caskets, and prepare their bodies - something like $80,000 when all was said and done. What if that money had been put into these men's villages in the first place? Would they ever have left?

In the very end of the book, Urrea breaks down the numbers. So many who are opposed to illegal immigration are so due to the cost of supporting these non-tax-paying illegals who take our jobs, right?
Well, with the numbers presented in this book- that argument is blown to bits. According to Urrea's data, the USA actually MAKES money on the illegals.
Over a lifetime it would cost the USA $55,000 per illegal, but if there were 4.5 million illegals in the USA they would actually generate $220 billion towards gross domestic product.
You have to read the book to see the graceful and somewhat cheeky way he breaks it down. It's amazing.

All in all, a fantastic non-fiction read. 5/5


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