The Devil's Highway: A True Story (Paperback)

Staff Pick Badge
The Devil's Highway: A True Story Cover Image
Usually Ships in 1-5 Days

Staff Reviews

The Devil’s Highway by Louis Alberto Urrea  is a moving work of non-fiction about a group of men who tried to find new lives in the USA.  Immigrating to the USA is not easy, can take decades, and coming illegally is fraught with danger.  It isn’t a journey anyone would want to take without desperate need.  One way across is through an unforgiving desert corridor known as The Devil’s Highway. 

In 2001 the Wellton 26 paid dearly to be guided across the border to safety and a chance to earn a living for their families back in Mexico.  Economic need fueled their trek. The book details the way they were preyed upon by the gang they paid to provide safe passage.  Instead, their guide panicked when lights were spotted, got lost, and abandoned the men to their fate.  

The desert is not a gentle place to be lost.  The sky is fierce with heat, lacking the comfort of  shade or cooling water.  Dehydration and heat stroke are strong possibilities once exposed too long to the high temperatures.  Creatures living in the desert can be deadly.   It took a while before one of the group stumbled upon a border control agent and summoned help. Fourteen of the men died, thereafter referred to as the Yuma 14.   An illegal trek across the border is a risky option for people who see no good alternative.  Luis Alberto Urrea tells the story of these men, bringing thier lives and realities to the reader, making us understand a little of the tragedies at our Southern Border. 


— Deon Stonehouse


From a Pulitzer Prize finalist, "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.

About the Author

A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his landmark work of nonficiton The Devil's Highway, Luis Alberto Urrea is also the bestselling author of the novels The Hummingbird's Daughter, Into the Beautiful North, and Queen of America, as well as the story collection The Water Museum, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist.

He has won the Lannan Literary Award, an Edgar Award, and a 2017 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, among many other honors. Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and American mother, he lives outside of Chicago and teaches at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Praise For…

"The single most compelling, lucid, and lyrical contemporary account of the absurdity of U.S. border policy."—The Atlantic

"It makes what currently passes for our public debate over illegal immigration seem appallingly abstract and tin-eared. The Devil's Highway isn't just a great book, it's a necessary one."—Jeff Salamon, Austin American-Statesman

"Urrea's writing is wickedly good--outrage tempered with concern channeled into deft prose."—Kathleen Johnson, Kansas City Star

"Urrea writes about U.S.-Mexican border culture with a tragic and beautiful intimacy that has no equal."—Tom Montgomery Fate, Boston Globe

"One of the great surrealistic tragedies of the global age...Urrea has crafted an impassioned and poetic exploration of the dark side of globalization, where commodities flow free and people die in the desert."—Jefferson Cowie, Chicago Tribune

"In artful yet uncomplicated prose, Urrea captivatingly tells how a dozen men squeezed by to safety...Confident and full of righteous rage, Urrea's story is a well-crafted melange of first-person testimony, geographic history, cultural and economic analysis, poetry and an indictment of immigration policy."—Publishers Weekly

"A powerful, almost diabolical impression of the disaster and the exploitative conditions of the border. Urrea shows immigration policy on the human level."—Booklist
Product Details
ISBN: 9780316010801
ISBN-10: 0316010804
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Publication Date: September 19th, 2005
Pages: 272
Language: English