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The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

The Line Becomes a River is an important, timely and insightful memoir. As a border agent, Franisco Cantú was trained to track humans in the Southwest desert. Eventually, Cantú leaves the position. As a civilian Cantú befriends an undocumented man who goes to Mexico to visit his dying mother, and then attempts to return to his family in America. Cantú writes about a complicated world in perfect and precise prose. He writes to understand. He writes to process the problematic world of borders, the people who cross them and live by them. Cantú comes to understand how every experience becomes a scar that fades, but never disappears. This memoir is reminiscent of Tim O'Briens work, a gifted writer reporting from the front lines of the human experience. — From Cindy's Picks (page 1)

I would recommend this book to anyone with even a vague interest in the US-Mexico Border. Exceptionally well-written, and thoughtfully put together. Cantu brings a vast range of personal, academic, and professional experience to the table. — From Amy's Picks


"A beautiful, fiercely honest, and nevertheless deeply empathetic look at those who police the border and the migrants who risk - and lose - their lives crossing it. In a time of often ill-informed or downright deceitful political rhetoric, this book is an invaluable corrective."
--Phil Klay

For Francisco Cantu, the border is in the blood: his mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest. Haunted by the landscape of his youth, Cantu joins the Border Patrol. He and his partners are posted to remote regions crisscrossed by drug routes and smuggling corridors, where they learn to track other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights. They haul in the dead and deliver to detention those they find alive. Cantu tries not to think where the stories go from there.

Plagued by nightmares, he abandons the Patrol for civilian life. But when an immigrant friend travels to Mexico to visit his dying mother and does not return, Cantu discovers that the border has migrated with him, and now he must know the whole story. Searing and unforgettable, The Line Becomes a River makes urgent and personal the violence our border wreaks on both sides of the line.

About the Author

Francisco Cantu served as an agent for the United States Border Patrol from 2008 to 2012, working in the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. A former Fulbright fellow, he is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a 2017 Whiting Award. His writing and translations have been featured in Best American Essays, Harper's, n+1, Orion, and Guernica, as well as on This American Life. He lives in Tucson.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780735217713
ISBN-10: 0735217718
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: February 6th, 2018
Pages: 256
Language: English
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