Coyotes: A Journey through the Secret World of America's Illegal Aliens

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Ted Conover lived the bizarre life of the Mexican illegals. Theirs is a subterrestrial world of high-wire tensions, of brutal police, of sinister smugglers — coyotes. A devastating document, this one must be read." — Leon Uris

The acclaimed author of Rolling Nowhere has taken another adventure, this time on the underground railway that operates across America's southern border. To discover what becomes of Mexicans who desperately slip into the United States, Ted Conover disguised himself as an illegal alien, walked across deserts, hid in orange orchards, waded through the Rio Grande, and cut life-threatening deals with tough-guy traffickers in human sweat. This electrifying account is the harrowing vision of a way of life no outsider has ever seen before.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This first title in the Vintage Departures series (``devoted to exploring the vastness of the world, of one's life, or even of one's own backyard'') focuses on the world of illegal aliens. Conover, author of Rolling Nowhere, posed as an immigrant, crossing the border twice and learning first-hand about ``coyotes''those who sneak Mexicans and other Latin Americans across the border, often under murderous conditions. Menaced by hoods, arrested, freed, forced to dodge spotter planes, Conover spent a year, as he puts it, ``working, drinking, smoking, driving, sleeping, sweating and shivering with Mexicans.'' His conclusion: ``It is urgent that we know more about these people who ask little more than to wash our dishes, vacuum our cars, and pick our fruit.'' This well-written, anecdotal account offers an intimate glimpse of the United States from a perspective few citizens are aware of. (September)
Library Journal
Conover, author of an earlier book on hobos, studies Mexican illegal aliens by living their life and crossing the border with them. His book is similar to John Davidson's The Long Journey North ( LJ 10/15/79), but Conover takes dangerous personal risks, spends more time with his contacts, covers a larger group of Mexicans, and ranges across Idaho, Arizona, and Florida as he describes how these people migrate within the United States. His experiences in central Mexico effectively capture the immigrant's impact on his own rural community, although one wishes for deeper personal insights into his subjects' motivations. An eminently readable and revealing account. Highly recommended. Roderic A. Camp, Latin American Studies Dept., Central Coll., Pella, Ia .
School Library Journal
YA The title refers to the name given to those people who smuggle illegal aliens into the United States. Conover lived among the people who pay ``coyotes'' enormous sums of money to be brought into this country secretly under condi tions that are full of physical threat. The most touching part of the book is the description of Conover's visit to Ahua catlan, the province from which many of the men he has met come. Here he wit nesses what has happened to the families left behind. While the money the men have earned has resulted in some im provement, there is still enormous pov erty in their lives, and their home life is drifting toward disintegration. There is humor, too, including a hilarious episode in which several men pool enough mon ey together to fly from Mexico to Los Angeles but must find the appropriate clothing and behaviors to avoid arousing suspicions by ``La Migra.'' Conover has done a good job of capturing the difficult lives of these men who want only to earn a decent wage to support their fami lies. Barbara Weathers, Duchesne Academy, Houston
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394755182
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/1987
  • Series: Vintage Departures Series
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 413,420
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 7.96 (h) x 0.61 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 28, 2011

    awesome book 5/5 stars

    this fantastic book, coyotes by Ted Conover, is about him actually posing as an illegal mexican immigrant, who crosses the border twice, and gets to have first hand accounts with the coyotes. these coyotes, are men who help sneek illegal immigrants over the border usually under extreme danger. they are at the risk of being arrested, shot, and just facing the hardships of the border crossing and getting through the dessert. then after making it into the united states, they have to find work. these immigrants end up getting some of the hardest working jobs out there. from working on a ranch to cleaning houses. in the book, some of the major messages, are how herd working these people are and how hard they work for so little, but to them, it is allot of money. it really shows us how hard working these people really are. some of my favorite parts of the book is, just the fact that this is from a first hand account. he did all of this for the sole reason of writing the book, so he is able to really go into detail about the experience and you get to hear the stories of others who traveled with the coyotes in hopes of finding work in the land of opportunity. i couldn't really find anything that i didn't like about the book. it was very well written, and keeps you to want to keep reading. i think anyone who would really like to learn about the hardships of these illegal immigrants and what they go through just to get hear. i think this is a great book for anyone, it is not to hard, easy to read. however those who have had to cross the border, and have gone through the the hardships, probably isn't recommended for them, because they might not want to remember their experience. over all, on this book, i give it a solid 5/5 stars. this book was excellent, well done, and very easy to read and kept you keep wanting to read as well.

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  • Posted September 23, 2010


    The book is about the writer who as an assignment went down to Mexico and crossed the boarder illegally with Mexicans. He then worked and traveled with them for about a year learning how hard it is for them to find, keep, and succeed with work. He has to work hard and learns that the Mexicans will do anything for just a little bit of work. This book gave me an entirely different look on the whole illegal immigration problem going on. It shows that the Mexicans travel far and endure a lot to get into the U.S. all for little pay (by our standards) and very hard work. Also with out them coming up there are very few Americans who would do the tiring backbreaking labor that is done. I did not like that Conover was participating in something illegal. I suggest reading this book if you are extremely against illegal immigration, while it is not right it changes the perspective on why it is done. Other recommended books by Conover that have won awards along with Coyotes include Whiteout and Newjack.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2007


    This book sheds light on a world that thrives in darkness and does so with grace. Highly entertaining-I was entranced from cover to cover.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2000

    Outstanding book

    This is an outstanding novel. It goes into very thorough detail and provides more than a glimpse of the lives of Mexican immigrants. While it forces you to move your heart towards these immigrants, it does so in a very objective manner. Conover states the facts intertwined with his personal experiences in such a way that you really feel as though you are there. This novel gives this this huddled crowd entering our society a face, and emotion. A great book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2000

    Mexican cultural emersion

    I appreciated being able to emerse myself in the people and culture of illegal migrant workers. Mr. Conover lives and travels with these men and women, both in the United States and Mexico. A great book to challenge my predjiduces, and specifically challenge what white America thinks of Mexican migrant workers. These people work harder and have more drive than I have ever known.

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