Though brief, this collection of urgent reports deserves a wide audience—and not just in Mexico.


A steely band of courageous Mexican journalists respond to the violence and corruption overwhelming their country—to great personal and professional peril.

In a series of elucidating and chilling dispatches, expertly translated by a variety of translators, seven well-respected journalists reveal Mexico’s “suppurating wound,” as described by Elena Poniatowska in the powerful preface. Each of the pieces in this work shows an absolute assault on justice and human rights: narcotics trafficking, organized crime, sex trafficking, femicide, violent peasant land struggles, disappeared youth, egregious government coverups, torture, and widespread murder. A recent haunting crime that overshadows several of these dispatches is the Sept. 26, 2014, abduction and disappearance of 43 students on their way to Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in Guerrero, one of the most violent narcotics trafficking states in Mexico. In “Collateral Damage—Living in Mexico,” Juan Villoro, a weekly columnist for Reforma, chronicles the horrendous violence that has overwhelmed the country since President Felipe Calderón’s disastrous war on drug trafficking began in 2006. “The problem…had been around for a long time,” he writes. “But the strategy failed. We were sitting on dynamite and Calderón lit a match to prove it.” In a developing country like Mexico, where a handful of families control the wealth, there is little opportunity for youth to advance outside the cartels, which provide what Villoro calls a sense of “identity and shared codes.” The crimes these journalists delineate seem to have no rhyme or reason save desperation and poverty—e.g., the young women pressed into sex slavery by boyfriends, documented by Diego Enrique Osorno in “Lily Sings Like a Little Bird.” Marcela Turati’s “War Made Me a Feminist” is a heart-rending look at how the violence has devastated women, mothers especially. With a recorded 94 journalists murdered in Mexico between 2000 and 2016 (documented in an appendix), the country has become one of the deadliest places to practice that profession.

Though brief, this collection of urgent reports deserves a wide audience—and not just in Mexico.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-85705-622-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hachette UK

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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"There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that." This is Perry Edward Smith, talking about himself. "Deal me out, baby...I'm a normal." This is Richard Eugene Hickock, talking about himself. They're as sick a pair as Leopold and Loeb and together they killed a mother, a father, a pretty 17-year-old and her brother, none of whom they'd seen before, in cold blood. A couple of days before they had bought a 100 foot rope to garrote them—enough for ten people if necessary. This small pogrom took place in Holcomb, Kansas, a lonesome town on a flat, limitless landscape: a depot, a store, a cafe, two filling stations, 270 inhabitants. The natives refer to it as "out there." It occurred in 1959 and Capote has spent five years, almost all of the time which has since elapsed, in following up this crime which made no sense, had no motive, left few clues—just a footprint and a remembered conversation. Capote's alternating dossier Shifts from the victims, the Clutter family, to the boy who had loved Nancy Clutter, and her best friend, to the neighbors, and to the recently paroled perpetrators: Perry, with a stunted child's legs and a changeling's face, and Dick, who had one squinting eye but a "smile that works." They had been cellmates at the Kansas State Penitentiary where another prisoner had told them about the Clutters—he'd hired out once on Mr. Clutter's farm and thought that Mr. Clutter was perhaps rich. And this is the lead which finally broke the case after Perry and Dick had drifted down to Mexico, back to the midwest, been seen in Kansas City, and were finally picked up in Las Vegas. The last, even more terrible chapters, deal with their confessions, the law man who wanted to see them hanged, back to back, the trial begun in 1960, the post-ponements of the execution, and finally the walk to "The Corner" and Perry's soft-spoken words—"It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize." It's a magnificent job—this American tragedy—with the incomparable Capote touches throughout. There may never have been a perfect crime, but if there ever has been a perfect reconstruction of one, surely this must be it.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1965

ISBN: 0375507906

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1965

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