The Devil's Highway: A True Story

The Devil's Highway: A True Story

by Luis Alberto Urrea
3.8 16


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The Devil's Highway: A True Story by Luis Alberto Urrea

In a new 10th anniversary edition: "The single most compelling, lucid, and lyrical contemporary account of the absurdity of U.S. border policy" (The Atlantic).

In May 2001, a group of men attempted to cross the Mexican border into the desert of southern Arizona, through the deadliest region of the continent, the "Devil's Highway." Three years later, Luis Alberto Urrea wrote about what happened to them. The result was a national bestseller, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a "book of the year" in multiple newspapers, and a work proclaimed as a modern American classic.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316010801
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 09/19/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 42,673
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.75(d)
Lexile: 890L (what's this?)

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Devil's Highway 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Hrsrdr More than 1 year ago
Urrea's horrendous telling of the hardships of the Devil's Highway--the route in the desert of Southern Arizona which Hispanic illegals must take to get in to the United States--portrays all sides of the story: the border patrol's, the illegals', and that of US citizens. He specifically writes about the story of a group of 26 men who tried to sneak into Los Estados Unidos under the "coyote" (leader) Jesus Lopez Ramos, telling of their downhill struggle from which only 12 returned, and those barely alive, so dehydrated they were almost mummified, vomiting blood and sick from drinking their own urine. In a direct, morbidly fascinating style that hits home with the reader's sense of justice and sympathy, he animatedly tells the story of individuals who are just trying to make a better future for themselves and their families, while still making it fair to the border patrol. It is a convicting work likely to leave the reader with dramatic reforms in opinion of "illegal aliens." The style in which it is written is painfully humorous and easy to relate with. It is also obviously well-researched and very unique. My only dislike would be that sometimes it is so direct it becomes too uncomfortable to read for long stretches at a time! It slams things into perspective like nothing I've ever read, except maybe John Grisham. Five stars: if you want something interesting, absorbing, and very moving, this is the book for you. I have not read any of Urrea's other works, such as Across the Wire (winner of the Christopher award) or By the Lake of Sleeping Children, but will definetely look into them in the future. Many of my favorite fiction works pale compared to this. Read it. You will not be disappointed.
JimRGill2012 More than 1 year ago
A stunning exposé of life on the Mexico-US border, ¿The Devil¿s Highway¿ examines politics and government policies by telling the story of 14 doomed ¿walkers¿ who attempted to cross the border into America by following an ill-prepared and inexperienced ¿Coyote¿ who was supposed to lead them to freedom but instead guided them to their deaths. Urrea¿s style is both lyrical and brutally blunt as he combines poetic imagery with the stark realism of the damage the desert can do to an unprepared traveler in the course of mere hours. His approach is objective until the point when objectivity is impossible. He portrays all of the players in this ill-fated drama with an even hand¿the Border Patrol agents, the walkers, the Coyotes, the Mexican gangsters who engineer (and profit from) the trips, the families left behind¿and he leaves the inevitable conclusions to the reader. Although this book is no political diatribe, the story Urrea tells reveals the cruelty and the inhumanity behind current immigration policies and laws. And while there are no easy answers to the immigration dilemma, there are certainly ways to improve the sorry state of US immigration policy.
veronicac311 More than 1 year ago
This book was a page turner. After reading this book I decided to go on a roadtrip on I-8 through the Devils Highway. This book helps the reader understand what the people feel when crossing through the desert from Mexico to the U.S. It helped me understand why they crossed and how they go about getting across. Sadly, it also details the slow and torturous death that they encounter when they get lost in the desert and can't find anyone to help.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Urrea brings to life the issue in the hearts of everyone living along the southern border of the US. It is an issue that should be in the hearts of everyone in the US. Unless you have lived and experienced border life first hand, you have no idea what is happening, why it is happening, and the realities of possible solutions. Urrea brings you as close to living on the border as one can get without actually living here. It is not intended to bring about a need to forgive all illegal immigration. It shows you what does happen--from all points of view. Buy it, read it, live it.
RichardGilbert More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing work of immersion and investigative journalism--crossed with poetry, for the physical descriptions of the desert and of the illegals' sufferings are stunning. Truly inspired, this is book is the product of great insight and work. It reads like a novel but is documented. Whatever side you stand on in the border wars, this book's insight and compassion for all sides, illegal Mexicans and Border Patrol officers, make it required reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The best book I've read on border issues. Urrea's facility with language and sense of story lift this book above the rest. He's turned investigative journalism into high art. It's graphic, painful, enraging and human.
Hailee-Holoubek2HH More than 1 year ago
Devils highway by Mr. Urrea was a very good book. Although some parts were rather boring, I really enjoyed this book! The nonfiction madness is about immigration. Its about several men who go into the dessert to America in search of freedom. These men are looking for jobs in search of a better life for their families. These men hope to find that in their travel. But as we know that deserts don't have any water and the sun is very hot. But what we don't know is that this desert is "cursed" and their are vicious snakes, bugs, etc. So read this book to learn about these peoples lives and who lives and dies. Hey, that rhymes!
BryanJ More than 1 year ago
The Devil's Highway is based on a true story about Yuma 14, written by Luis Alberto Urrea. Yuma 14 was a tragic event that left fourteen(out of a group of twenty-six) illegal immigrants dead trying to cross the Arizona Desert. To some people living in Veracruz and in other parts of Mexico, it just isn't enough. Most can't afford modern appliances like TV. Some can't even afford an education. To them the United States seems like the place to live. Getting into the United States from Mexico isn't easy and some hire smugglers to get them across. These smugglers can get you into the United States by buses and elabroate schemes, but that costs more. To most that isn't an option, so they hire Coyotes, or guides, to help them walk their way through the rough terrains and the Arizona Desert. 26 people embarked on the same journey through the unforgiving landscape but only 12 survived after being ditched by their guide. Urrea does a fantastic job describing the Border Patrol and the politics floating around illegal immigration. He says from the Mexicans' point of view their seen as some kind of fearsome but respectful cowboys. Sure when the patrol find some walkers they'll give them water and maybe even joke around but their still under arrest. He also talks about steriotypes, how some started, why they exist. The first half of the book was very factual and slow going. It was very hard to keep up with the diffrent nicknames, sectors, and the individuals. Somewhere in the book it eventualy got into the actual story of Yuma 14. From their it was still very slow. It had some very exciting moments, like a father losing his son, but I just couldn't connect. The story it self was very good, Being smuggled into the US then getting ditched by your guide in the harsh arizona desert. The book also showed human nature at its best and worst. i would only suggest this book to people who actualy knows a bit about the US Mexico border. The story is great. It is just very slow going, and factual. If you already know a bit about the border it might be easier to read, then i say go for it cause it is a good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was excited to begin this book and to gain some insight into the current issues with the Mexican/US border. Sadly, I think the author missed an enormous opportunity to enlighten and inform his readers about the plight of illegals who are crossing into the US. The story of the Yuma 14, which is at the heart of the story, is entertaining and emotional and includes some interesting anecdotes. But the book is padded and repetitive. The actual facts are remarkably thin, and the author's comments are often unnecessarily snide. And although the author expresses some strong opinions throughout, his perspective is inconsistent and confusing.
huckfinn37 More than 1 year ago
This book about illegal immigration and the United States and Mexico is okay; but not great. The author researched the topic well; however, after a while, I got the point of the book and I didn't wish to read anymore. But, I did finish it because it was a book picked for our book club. I think that the author isn't as objective as he should have been. This book is interesting; but I wouldn't recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Literally the worst book I've ever read. Luis Alberto Urrea claims to be unbiased about the situation with the Mexican immigrants, but he is completely biased, but not in one direction. In both! If he's not trashing the Border Patrol, he's trashing the Mexican immigrants. He even refers to the Border Patrol as "evil". He even went in great detail to describe what a Border Patrol officer would call a Mexican in vulgar terms. I had to read this book for school, and every time I picked it up to read, I could only manage to read a few pages before I got so angry that I had to put it down (or in some cases, throw it against a wall). He often slides in phrases in Spanish, as if he just wants to seem smart. The worst part of the book is the writing. For instance, he says "In the great north woods, lumberjacks collected the big trees. The Alamo. The Civil War took out countless citizens in its desperate upheaval." These two-word "sentences" pop up often throughout the book. It isn't just the sentence structuring that is wrong, but it's also the flow of ideas. At one part in the book he says that someone died, and then goes on to tell why he died, but not right off the bat, two pages full of useless information about how many guns the man had later, he explains in a few sentences what happened. I do not recommend this book to anyone, not even my greatest of enemies. Making it through these 220 pages was more torturous than being stranded in the desert itself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I detest this book. For it to get such praising reviews and literary awards, I have to question whether people have actually read this book or merely want to seem invested in the hot topic of border policies and illegal immigration. The book jumps back and forth in the beginning, making it difficult to understand the route the story is trying to take. It's dysfunctional and confusing. The author claims to be unbiased, yet for most of the book seems in favor of the illegal immigrants he's describing. I could understand him feeling pity for men and women led astray by the Coyotes, but this goes beyond that. It reads as though he's implying that illegal immigration should be made legal to prevent poor treatment by the Coyotes and even by border patrol. The author clearly has disdain for the border patrol, putting an edge to his words when explaining their procedures. Beyond story line problems and his bias, the author is simply a /bad writer/. Sentences like 'It was a dream of speed for men who had not sped before' actually give me difficulty understanding the text. 'Home sweet home.' 'A hundred dollars!' 'A business move.' 'Cement. Shadowy' Incomplete sentences are scattered throughout the book in a ridiculous manner. This is not a literary move to create emphasis. This is /bad writing/. The author throws in Spanish words and either A) gives their meaning directly after, even when the Spanish word is a cognate or B) give no meaning, usually when meaning is actually needed to understand what is being said. This book is not particularly well written. It is, purely looking at writing style, an OK book. However, in combination with the author's uninteresting story telling and obnoxious bias, 'The Devil's Highway' is a bad book. The only thing I will recommend to people about this book is to not read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Absolute garbage. The writing is above average at best, and the book is written with the goal of it being left wing propeganda. The book is designed to elicit an emotional response from Americans and make us feel like we should allow anyone who comes knocking on our door into our country and make them citizens. Don't bother buying this one. If you already bought it, consider using it as toilet paper if you ever run out.