Border Crosser

One Gringo's Illicit Passage from Mexico into America

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Johnny Rico is back. After risking his life as an Afghanistan stop-loss soldier, an experience he described in the cult phenomenon Blood Makes the Grass Grow Green, he now dares to embed himself on both sides of America’s most dangerous domestic conflict–the war for and against illegal immigration–in an exhilarating new exercise in immersion journalism.

The gonzo author–part Hunter Thompson, part George Plimpton–explores a seemingly insoluble issue by getting his hands dirty and his boots on the ground. As a “typically spoiled American” who doesn’t speak a lick of Spanish, he takes it upon himself to try to cross the Mexican border into the United States illegally.

Eager to tell the story from all sides–or simply to get good material for his book–Rico also travels treacherously with the Border Patrol, meets extreme immigrant advocates who publish maps for illegals, visits a modern-day “underground railroad” in Texas, and hunts for miscreants with angry vigilantes.

In such hot spots as the Tecate Line, a forty-five-mile stretch of hills on California’s southern fringe, and Arizona’s Amnesty Trail, the single busiest part of the U.S. border, Rico encounters Los Zetas, the paramilitatry group that has taken over Mexico’s drug cartels, interviews the volunteer Minutemen, who believe in an imminent and apocalyptic Mexican invasion, and tries to recruit coyotes (human smugglers, usually fortified by meth and cocaine).

In his heedless and openly opportunistic style, Rico unearths more truths about this explosive subject than most traditional reporters could ever hope to. Border Crosser is another knockout from this new-generation journalist, at once a concerned citizen, courageous spy, and unparalleled author.


From the Hardcover edition.

READ AN EXCERPT

Chapter One



Migrant Mountain

(Mexico Sector)


In the Big Rock Candy Mountains, there's a land that's fair and bright
Where the handouts grow on bushes and you sleep out every night
Where the boxcars are all empty and the sun shines every day . . .
Oh, I'm bound to go where there...
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PRAISE FOR

“A timeless story of confounded youth and its eternal struggle for meaning, this book may well signal the birth of a titanic new voice. . . . [Rico’s] precise, evocative prose balances pathos and humor with an almost destructive compulsion for honesty and so much frustrated wit that, even at his most naked and sensitive, he holds nothing sacred.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review


From the Hardcover edition.