Kirkus Reviews QR Code


Crossing to the Dark Side of the American Border

by David Neiwert

Pub Date: March 26th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-56858-725-7
Publisher: Nation Books

A scouring investigation of the unorthodox methods of the anti-immigration Minuteman Project.

Journalist Neiwert (The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right, 2009, etc.) probes the underworld of anti-immigration vigilante justice. Beginning with the murder of a drug trafficker and his family in an Arizona border town, the author reveals that neither a rival drug gang nor illegal immigrants were responsible for the crime, but rather, members of the Minuteman Project themselves. The narrative soon expands outward, tracing the tangled web of circumstances that led America’s so-called anti-immigration defenders down a murderous path. Featuring a complex assortment of characters and an occasionally difficult-to-follow storyline, Neiwert examines the various routes men and women took to becoming Minutemen. As he proves, not all were motivated by unrelenting patriotic fervor or xenophobic tendencies; economic prospects, as well as the desire to restart otherwise unremarkable lives also played a part. These motives were particularly important for Shawna Forde, a beautician-turned-vigilante extremist who took part in the aforementioned murders. A lifetime of swindling and petty theft prepared her for the ultimate crime. As Neiwert reports, Forde’s personality likely predisposed her for her actions, or at least her involvement in the Minutemen organization. “What movements like the Minutemen most offer psychopaths like Shawna Forde is the opportunity to remake themselves into their own hyperinflated view of themselves as Heroes with a capital H,” he writes,” “all without the hard work, sacrifice, and dedication that usually comprise the foundations of real heroism.” Forde never received her hero status; her cowardly crimes caught up with her in the Arizona courtrooms in 2011.

A sweeping account of some of the major players in the Minuteman Project, though the ambitious narrative occasionally becomes unfocused.