The Best Books On The USA / Mexico Border

The Books I Picked & Why

Juarez: The Laboratory of Our Future

By Charles Bowden

Juarez: The Laboratory of Our Future

Why this book?

I could have picked almost any of Bowden’s books on the border, for example, the excellent Murder City, but I’m choosing Laboratory of the Future as it’s the first piece of his writing I came across. Bowden, who lived on both sides of the US/Mexican border for many years, was intimate with his subject, and the brutal power of his journalistic writing puts most novelists to shame. He is not afraid to question us or confront us, or hide his anger, but it is never unwarranted. In this book, he, and the thirteen Mexican photographers whose frequently shocking images accompany the text, paints a grim picture of the nature of ultra-capitalism when allowed to run free just south of the border – it is, he says, an experiment: it is the laboratory of our future.


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Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel

By Tom Wainwright

Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel

Why this book?

For a closer look at the way drug cartels work, Wainwright suggests we need to think of them in terms of big business, for that is what, underneath the extreme violence and horror, they are.


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The Unarmed Truth: My Fight to Blow the Whistle and Expose Fast and Furious

By John Dodson

The Unarmed Truth: My Fight to Blow the Whistle and Expose Fast and Furious

Why this book?

Dodson was an officer for the ATF working along the border with Mexico. He stumbled across the scandal behind Operation Fast and Furious, and rather than keeping quiet, he took the risky step of whistleblowing on covert operations by US government agencies in collusion with the drug gangs of Mexico, and the death of Border Patrol Agent, Brian Terry.


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The Sorrows of Mexico

By Anabel Hernández, Marcela Turati, Juan Villoro, Lydia Cacho, Emiliano Ruiz Parra

The Sorrows of Mexico

Why this book?

Seven esteemed Mexican writers: analyse and dissect the repeated failings of their country’s government. Uncomfortable but necessary reportage for anyone who wants to understand the situation in modern Mexico.


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Death and the Idea of Mexico

By Claudio Lomnitz

Death and the Idea of Mexico

Why this book?

I wanted to include a book here on ‘Holy Death’ herself, Santa Muerte, but there simply isn’t a good one. There’s a terrible one published by a once respectable academic publisher, but I can’t recommend it. Instead, there are some passages on Santa Muerte in this huge and significant piece of work: Lomnitz’s encyclopedic book digs into Mexico’s deep roots to explore the long relationship the country has with Death, of which the still growing ‘cult’ of Santa Muerte is but one emanation.


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