A mix of memoir and deep research into various Mexican and American political immigration issues, exploring complications of life on both sides of the border.
Although the narrative is wide-ranging, Corchado (Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent into Darkness, 2013), the Border-Mexico correspondent for the Dallas Morning News, organizes it loosely around the “four friends” of the title: the author, a Mexican-born, mostly U.S.–educated journalist; a Mexican-born immigrant owner of a Mexican restaurant in Philadelphia; a Mexican-born political activist splitting time between the neighboring nations; and a politically connected lawyer born as a U.S. citizen in the state of New Mexico. In 1987, during the early years of their careers, the four men, feeling isolated in Philadelphia, met and discussed their life situations, and they never lost touch. The saga of each man is intriguing, but the narrative is least compelling when Corchado devotes too much space to his companions. The book is most compelling when he focuses on the memoir part of the story, including how his parents reluctantly departed Mexico hoping to find a richer life north of the border. A secondary, equally compelling narrative involves Corchado’s evolution as a journalist. Studying the subject at a geographically remote university in El Paso, Texas, the author never dreamed that his talent and ethnic diversity would lead to employment at the Philadelphia bureau of the Wall Street Journal. Because Corchado’s professional passion centered on illuminating life along the U.S.–Mexico border, he left the Journal for his dream assignment at the Morning News. (He would go on to earn multiple prizes and fellowships for his work.) Naturally, given the devastating narcotics-related violence in both nations, the author offers insights into drug policy, which is intimately tied into border security and both legal and illegal immigration.
An affecting, timely book that would have benefited from tighter editing and a less scattered narrative structure.