The Line Becomes A River
"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 KlayFor Francisco Cantú, 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, Cantú 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. Cantú 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, Cantú 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.

The Line Becomes A River Details

TitleThe Line Becomes A River
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 6th, 2018
PublisherRiverhead Books
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Politics, Biography Memoir, Biography, Adult, The United States Of America

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The Line Becomes A River Review

  • Maureen
    January 1, 1970
    *3.5 STARS*Francisco Cantú grew up on the US / Mexican border where his mother, ( a second generation Mexican - American ) was a park ranger. Francisco loved the landscape - the national parks and desert landscapes, and living in close proximity to the border ignited a curiosity in him to learn more about border control. He decided to pursue a degree in border relations, and although his studies provided some insight into the problems, he needed to see how things worked in the real world, and be *3.5 STARS*Francisco Cantú grew up on the US / Mexican border where his mother, ( a second generation Mexican - American ) was a park ranger. Francisco loved the landscape - the national parks and desert landscapes, and living in close proximity to the border ignited a curiosity in him to learn more about border control. He decided to pursue a degree in border relations, and although his studies provided some insight into the problems, he needed to see how things worked in the real world, and became a field agent with Border Control.This is Cantú's personal account of what really happens, from both the perspective of the agents and also the immigrants themselves. Regardless of one's opinions on the subject of immigration, it's clear that there's no right or wrong - no black or white - these are human beings, each with their own story, their own hopes, dreams, and fears. Cantú shows great compassion for the people he encounters, but essentially the system appears flawed, and there's little he can do on a personal level, he's simply there to enforce immigration laws.I found the first part of the book to be quite disjointed, and there were lots of facts and figures to absorb - ( and although I realise these were important ) I found it heavy going at times. There were some distressing scenes regarding drugs cartels and those dealing in human trafficking - they were heartbreaking to read, but it would have been wrong to omit these, because these are the facts laid bare, and there's no way of skirting round them.This is an informed and honest look at something that everyone has an opinion on. Cantú uses a blank canvas to paint us a picture, but it's a picture you wouldn't want to stand and admire. I doubt you'll find a more crucial read regarding immigration and border control than this one.*Thank you to Random House UK, Vintage Publishing for my ARC in exchange for an honest review*
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  • Meike
    January 1, 1970
    "When I was in school, I spent all this time studying international relations, immigration, border security. I was always reading about policy and economics, looking at all these complex academic ways of addressing this big unsolvable problem. When I made the decision to apply for this job, I had the idea that I'd see things in the patrol that would somehow unlock the border for me, you know? I thought I'd come up with all sorts of answers. And then working here, you see so much, you have all th "When I was in school, I spent all this time studying international relations, immigration, border security. I was always reading about policy and economics, looking at all these complex academic ways of addressing this big unsolvable problem. When I made the decision to apply for this job, I had the idea that I'd see things in the patrol that would somehow unlock the border for me, you know? I thought I'd come up with all sorts of answers. And then working here, you see so much, you have all these experiences. But I don't know how to put it into context, I don't know where I fit in it all. I've got more questions than ever before." This quote from the book is part of a conversation Francisco Cantú, the author of this memoir, had with one of his fellow Border Patrol agents. After graduating with a B.A. in International Relations, Cantú decided to experience the realities of law enforcement at the Mexico-United States border for himself - much to the dismay of his concerned mother, a former Arizona park ranger: "You grew up near the border, living with me in the deserts and national parks. The border is in our blood for Christ's sake - your great-grandparents brought my father across the border from Mexico when he was just a little boy."As a grandson of immigrants, Cantú was now directly confronted with the plight of migrants seeking a better life, many of them dying during their dangerous passage through the desert, the cartels, trafficking drugs and people, the local inhabitants and farmers who are fearing both cartel violence and raids by hungry and desperate migrants, and the psychological toll the dangerous work of patrolling the "unnatural divide" takes on his colleagues and him. Faced with a multitude of dangerous and bloody stories, the "big unsolvable problem" of the border starts to weigh Cantú down. Instead of making peace with the wolf, as his patron saint Francis of Assisi (after whom his mother named him) did, a wolf starts to haunt Cantú's dreams: "I dreamed of a cave littered with body parts, a landscape devoid of color and light. I saw a wolf circling in the darkness and felt its paws heavy on my chest, its breath hot on my face. I awoke (...). Then, for several minutes, I stared into the mirror trying to recognize myself."What makes this text so strong is that Cantú manages to give a nuanced account, presenting the factual and the emotional without getting carried away on neither side. He puts all of his knowledge to work in order to make sense of the border as a concept and as an actual phenomenon: His family background, the historical, sociological and psychological research on the impact of the border and the violence that occurs there, as well as his experiences as a border patrol agent and as a friend of a deported Mexican. On the level of language, factual accounts, stories, studies, and highly poetic bits are intertwined, and the change of style and tone add to the depiction of the border as a contradictory and multi-layered reality that can be encircled, but never fully grasped (Cantú left the Border Patrol and got an MFA in Creative Writing). The title "The Line Becomes River" hints at the fact that the Rio Grande forms part of the Mexico-United States border, the fluidity of the water somehow mocking the character of the border as a fixed barrier: "As I swam toward a bend in the canyon, the river became increasingly shallow. In a patch of sunlight, two longnose gars, relics of the Paleozoic era, hovered in the silted water. I stood to walk along the adjacent shorelines, crossing the river time and again as each bank came to an end, until finally, for one brief moment, I forgot in which country I stood. All around me the landscape trembled and breathed as one."Francisco Cantú already won the 2017 Whiting Award for Nonfiction for this book, and it is pretty easy to see why: Cantú does not only discuss a very current topic and shatters disgusting racist stereotypes, he also does not fall into the trap of turning his memoir into a pamphlet against the madman in the White House (who is not mentioned with one syllable throughout the whole text). It is the factuality and nuance of the book that make this account credible and moving.
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  • Wendy Trevino
    January 1, 1970
    This is a book for the #bluelivesmatter & #alllivesmatter crowd. I hate that crowd.
  • Oki
    January 1, 1970
    I don't find the ethics of this book interesting, nuanced, complex, or human. What's being posed here, is the worst that literature has to offer, and is a variation of a genre already used by the cultural propagandists of the so-called "free world." It's a cop-loving dead end of a universe, made by collaborating with the forces of death that this book pretends to mourn, it is selfish and degrading. This book tries to humanize hunting down other people.
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  • Stephen
    January 1, 1970
    thanks to the publishers and netgalley for a free copy in return for an open and honest reviewfound this book very interesting in light of current developments in american politics and history. the author expresses himself as the dehumanisation of the whole process of deportation and border patrol but at same lights gives some insight into mexican history too. The first part of the book took awhile to get going for me but the latter part of the book to me was more personal and humble.
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  • Roman Clodia
    January 1, 1970
    So you see, there is nothing that can keep me from crossing. My boys are not dogs to be abandoned in the street. I will walk through the desert for five days, eight days, ten days, whatever it takes to be with them. I'll eat grass, I'll eat cactus, I'll drink filthy cattle water, I'll drink nothing at all. I'll run and hide from la migra, I'll pay the mafias whatever I have to. They can take my money, they can rob my family, they can lock me away, but I will keep coming back. I will keep crossi So you see, there is nothing that can keep me from crossing. My boys are not dogs to be abandoned in the street. I will walk through the desert for five days, eight days, ten days, whatever it takes to be with them. I'll eat grass, I'll eat cactus, I'll drink filthy cattle water, I'll drink nothing at all. I'll run and hide from la migra, I'll pay the mafias whatever I have to. They can take my money, they can rob my family, they can lock me away, but I will keep coming back. I will keep crossing, again and again, until I make it, until I am together again with my family. This is such a lyrical, passionate piece of writing as Cantu, conscious of his own mixed American-Mexican heritage, becomes a Border Patrol agent on the US-Mexican border. What he rapidly comes to understand is the huge chasm between the law and human realities, between what is legal and what is ethically 'right'. Dealing with his mother's distrust ('Fine, my mother said, fine. But you must understand you are stepping into a system, an institution with little regard for people'), he comes himself to realise, and articulate so beautifully, that borders are liminal, constructed spaces, not hard walls - whatever contemporary political rhetoric might tell us. Urgent, necessary, emotive and beautifully written.Many thanks to Random House/Vintage for an ARC via NetGalley.
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  • Neil
    January 1, 1970
    "Some politicians in the United States think that if a mother or father is deported, this will cause the entire family to move back to Mexico. But in fact, the mothers and fathers with the best family values will want their family to stay in the U.S., they will cross the border again and again to be with them. So you see, these same people, the ones with the most dedication to their family, they begin to build up a record of deportation, they have more and more problems with the government, and "Some politicians in the United States think that if a mother or father is deported, this will cause the entire family to move back to Mexico. But in fact, the mothers and fathers with the best family values will want their family to stay in the U.S., they will cross the border again and again to be with them. So you see, these same people, the ones with the most dedication to their family, they begin to build up a record of deportation, they have more and more problems with the government, and it becomes harder and harder for them to ever become legal. In this way, the U.S. is making criminals out of those who could become its very best citizens."This is a book of gradually narrowing focus. In the early parts, we read quite a bit about the history of the border between the USA and Mexico. As I read it, I thought about how the border gradually became something more and more impenetrable. From being an agreement, it became a marked line:"In keeping with the trend toward consolidating a well‑demarcated and enforceable line, the convention agreements stipulated “that the distance between two consecutive monuments shall never exceed 8,000 meters, and that this limit may be reduced on those parts of the line which are inhabited or capable of habitation."And now someone (this is not discussed or even mentioned in the book) wants to go all the way and make it into a wall.The author is a man who who worked for several years in the Border Guard and we read of his experiences enforcing the border, stopping people crossing when they should not be, sending them back.Finally, as the focus narrows even further, we read a detailed account of one man’s experience of the border.This is a clever book. It is non-fiction and based on real experience. But it is structured in a way that pulls you in and reminds you that, however much there may be politics involved in borders and immigration, there are also real people living ordinary lives.For most people reading this book, the USA-Mexico border will not be part of their everyday experience. There will, however, be areas of their lives where there is division. And this book makes you think about those areas. For this reason, it is a book that is well worth reading.I would like to suggest two works of fiction as companion reads to this. Firstly, Signs Preceding the End of the World is a book based on a crossing of the border from Mexico to USA and which "explores the crossings and translations people make in their minds and language as they move from one country to another, especially when there’s no going back.". Secondly, Frankenstein in Baghdad explores some similar ideas about people and bodies and names. It is a very different book but I read it not long before reading this and was drawn back to it many times as I read this.My thanks to Vintage Publishing for an ARC via NetGalley.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    Whilst I was continually intrigued by the premise of this book, and eager to hear from the unique standpoint Cantú speaks from, I’m sorry to say that I felt the first half of this rather dry and detached. Rather like the desert landscape and laddish culture he starts work among.However, as Cantú begins to fall deeper down the rabbit hole that is his job, I began to get sucked in behind him. When he speaks from personal experience there is emotion there for sure. Still I feel this occasionally ge Whilst I was continually intrigued by the premise of this book, and eager to hear from the unique standpoint Cantú speaks from, I’m sorry to say that I felt the first half of this rather dry and detached. Rather like the desert landscape and laddish culture he starts work among.However, as Cantú begins to fall deeper down the rabbit hole that is his job, I began to get sucked in behind him. When he speaks from personal experience there is emotion there for sure. Still I feel this occasionally gets bogged down in the facts and legalities, which are obviously very important, but it makes this quite a dense read. Definitely would recommend this though. It’s a fascinating look at border relations from an informed and honest standpoint.
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  • Neil
    January 1, 1970
    I received a free copy via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.This is a hard hitting Biography showing how a job affects the people and to what lengths people will go to cross a border.Scary.
  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    THE LINE BECOMES A RIVER, Francisco Cantú’s fiercely lyrical and eerily prescient debut, could not have come at a more urgent time. As the migration of human bodies across borders becomes more politicized and militarized, Cantú’s writing shines through the misinformation and propaganda with heartbreaking clarity, providing necessary insight into the tangled web of humanity, separation, violence, and legislation that characterizes the U.S.-Mexico border. He writes with grace, determination, and a THE LINE BECOMES A RIVER, Francisco Cantú’s fiercely lyrical and eerily prescient debut, could not have come at a more urgent time. As the migration of human bodies across borders becomes more politicized and militarized, Cantú’s writing shines through the misinformation and propaganda with heartbreaking clarity, providing necessary insight into the tangled web of humanity, separation, violence, and legislation that characterizes the U.S.-Mexico border. He writes with grace, determination, and a duality inherent to all borders: the book is a deeply personal account of Cantú’s time in the Border Patrol, but it is also a reckoning with how history weighs on a place, how it shapes a landscape and its people into something different, complicated, and impossible to quantify. Ultimately, THE LINE BECOMES A RIVER is a must-read, and Francisco Cantú’s writing is not to be missed.
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  • Virginia
    January 1, 1970
    A refreshingly objective, yet personal look at the US-Mexico Border and the issues it carries. Francisco Cantu served as a field agent for the US Border Patrol and graduated up the ranks, eventually leaving to continue his studies. His perspective as an agent and a citizen as eye-opening and intriguing as he doesn't seem to take a side on this controversial issue. Instead, he presents his experience dealing with regular people as well as criminals and lets the reader decide what's right and what A refreshingly objective, yet personal look at the US-Mexico Border and the issues it carries. Francisco Cantu served as a field agent for the US Border Patrol and graduated up the ranks, eventually leaving to continue his studies. His perspective as an agent and a citizen as eye-opening and intriguing as he doesn't seem to take a side on this controversial issue. Instead, he presents his experience dealing with regular people as well as criminals and lets the reader decide what's right and what's wrong. This objective look makes it a crucial read when it comes to immigration. Everyone from all political parties should read this.
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  • Bookforum Magazine
    January 1, 1970
    "I came to think of The Line Becomes a River as an attempt to counter these dehumanizing metaphors. Cantú has written an insistently humane book, or maybe just a human one. It does not presume to be an account of what the border means, or a theory about what should be done about it; rather, it's an exploration of how the border feels, and what happens to the people who get caught in its gears. The account is necessarily fractured, incomplete–after all, a border is not something you can see in it "I came to think of The Line Becomes a River as an attempt to counter these dehumanizing metaphors. Cantú has written an insistently humane book, or maybe just a human one. It does not presume to be an account of what the border means, or a theory about what should be done about it; rather, it's an exploration of how the border feels, and what happens to the people who get caught in its gears. The account is necessarily fractured, incomplete–after all, a border is not something you can see in its totality."–Rachel Monroe reviews Francisco Cantú's The Line Becomes a River in the Feb/Mar 2018 issue of Bookforum
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    The author tells other people’s stories while directly causing and profiting from their pain. This is a book about his contributions to other people’s suffering that also gives extremely skewed look at life on the border that provides fodder for right wing anti-immigration sentiments.
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  • Fox
    January 1, 1970
    Disgusting. If you have any compassion for the people who cross the border, do not read this trash.
  • Jenn
    January 1, 1970
    Pro-border patrol propaganda.
  • Jillian Doherty
    January 1, 1970
    Read this book - everyone should!Open your mind to needed, unbiased perspective; Cantú brilliantly illustrates how blind we are to this razor fine line between humanity and objectification. Written with the literary charm of Juno Diaz, and the vitally informative voice of Masha Gessen. It's as personal as it is judgeless; the human stories that hit home, that we're all working to better understand today - the wall, boarder patrol, and gathering insight from the inside and out without preconceive Read this book - everyone should!Open your mind to needed, unbiased perspective; Cantú brilliantly illustrates how blind we are to this razor fine line between humanity and objectification. Written with the literary charm of Juno Diaz, and the vitally informative voice of Masha Gessen. It's as personal as it is judgeless; the human stories that hit home, that we're all working to better understand today - the wall, boarder patrol, and gathering insight from the inside and out without preconceived notions, or agenda. This emotional narrative nonfiction is all consuming - the kind of experience that only comes from writing and content this good.
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  • Lydia
    January 1, 1970
    Incredible. It has changed the way I read and digest the news. A poetic, honest, and heartbreaking look at life on the border, from the side of an agent whose duty is to uphold the laws, as well as those trying to get around them. So important and timely. Thank you, Francisco Cantu, for your work.
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  • Kevin
    January 1, 1970
    I expected this to be a somewhat dry but fascinating book. What I got was a curiously intriguing piece of writing.I think, given this was an account of a time in a branch of law enforcement, I was expecting a very procedural account of outlandish experiences. The reality is that it's a very stylised collection of everyday life in the border patrol. The first two sections of the book almost read like freeform prose - the paragraphs leap about, they can seem disjointed initially but the thread con I expected this to be a somewhat dry but fascinating book. What I got was a curiously intriguing piece of writing.I think, given this was an account of a time in a branch of law enforcement, I was expecting a very procedural account of outlandish experiences. The reality is that it's a very stylised collection of everyday life in the border patrol. The first two sections of the book almost read like freeform prose - the paragraphs leap about, they can seem disjointed initially but the thread connecting them gradually pulls tight and the story becomes clearer. I'm not a big fan of that style of writing generally, but luckily it's relatively subtle and didn't put me off. Another factor that adds to this unstructured feel is the random flipping into spanish. Now my spanish is basic at best so this was a little worrying at times, but it tends to just be short 3-4 word phrases here and there so even when I had no idea what any of the words were I could get a rough idea of what was said thanks to the surrounding text.The final section of the book is far more what I had initially expected - although ironically it details a time after Cantú had left his job with the border patrol. It is more traditional writing, although the spanish phrases still loop in frequently and it still has a sense of stream of consciousness.Oddly, I think I slightly prefer the unexpected initial sections. They slight randomness of it all seems fitting. The sudden burst of intensity breaking up an everyday dullness that seems to represent the lifestyle well. Cantú seems to frame the duality of enforcement and humanity quite well, there are hints of an internal struggle which all agents seem to have to deal with in varying degrees.If you want to read about heroics on the border skip this book. It's far more about the people involved. It's about how there could/should be more compassion in policing a border. How arbitrary some of the regulations used to enforce immigration can be. How things are rarely black and white, and how people rarely fit the boxes of administrivia perfectly.I'd recommend having some light entertainment to hand when delving into this, but overall it's a rewarding read. Not always a comfortable one, but one worth some time.
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  • Sara Cutaia
    January 1, 1970
    This is definitely a book to look for in 2018. Fascinating and gripping, Cantu takes us through the deserts of the south as a Border Patrol Agent, showing us the humanity in the humans he routinely encountered crossing the border. I was blown away with both the emotional depth and the historical accuracy. Cantu is not only a talented writer, but also a deeply caring soul who presents the immigration issues as they are, without bias, while also being wholly understanding. You feel Cantu's distres This is definitely a book to look for in 2018. Fascinating and gripping, Cantu takes us through the deserts of the south as a Border Patrol Agent, showing us the humanity in the humans he routinely encountered crossing the border. I was blown away with both the emotional depth and the historical accuracy. Cantu is not only a talented writer, but also a deeply caring soul who presents the immigration issues as they are, without bias, while also being wholly understanding. You feel Cantu's distress as he moves from position to position within the immigration system, meeting faces, learning names and stories, having dreams and feeling increasingly confused about his role in it all. A native Texan, I've always been invested in the immigration narrative. If you're like me, and honestly even if you're not, you should read this. I promise you'll have a new, or at least clearer, understanding of who, what, how and why surrounding this issue.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    I have an ARC copy of this book from the MPIBA Fall Discovery Show. Francisco Cantu spoke there, and I had the chance to meet him. Cantu writes well, showing us his experiences without commentary, allowing the reader to draw conclusions. I appreciated the way he wove in outside material from other writers or other sources. There were times I wanted to pick up a pen and underline sentences or note ideas in the margins. This is the type of book that will stay with you, and make you think. It is no I have an ARC copy of this book from the MPIBA Fall Discovery Show. Francisco Cantu spoke there, and I had the chance to meet him. Cantu writes well, showing us his experiences without commentary, allowing the reader to draw conclusions. I appreciated the way he wove in outside material from other writers or other sources. There were times I wanted to pick up a pen and underline sentences or note ideas in the margins. This is the type of book that will stay with you, and make you think. It is non-fiction. I did not find it to be a difficult read.It is not written to support any particular agenda, but allows the reader to see what the border is like from many sides of the issue. Thoughtfully written.
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  • Uriel Perez
    January 1, 1970
    Francisco Cantú writes with incredible insight and opens up the conversation regarding immigration and human rights that so desperately needs to be had right now. Cantú writes of his time in the Border Patrol, the ethical and moral conflict he faced as a second-generation Mexican American in the business of deporting migrants and assess the state of the US's broken immigration system. THE LINE BECOMES A RIVER is written with ferocious honesty, compassion and offers a necessary argument in a coun Francisco Cantú writes with incredible insight and opens up the conversation regarding immigration and human rights that so desperately needs to be had right now. Cantú writes of his time in the Border Patrol, the ethical and moral conflict he faced as a second-generation Mexican American in the business of deporting migrants and assess the state of the US's broken immigration system. THE LINE BECOMES A RIVER is written with ferocious honesty, compassion and offers a necessary argument in a country divided (among other things) by a deeply misunderstood issue.
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  • Sophie Childs
    January 1, 1970
    This is a bittersweet, thought provoking memoir that gives an insight into what life is like for border patrols and migrants alike. Through Cantu's personal experiences, we learn more about an issue that is far from black and white. Detailing his experiences both as a border guard and then in trying to build a life after leaving the service, we learn more about how difficult life is like living near the border, told through a stream of easy-to-read, touching anecdotes that pose more questions th This is a bittersweet, thought provoking memoir that gives an insight into what life is like for border patrols and migrants alike. Through Cantu's personal experiences, we learn more about an issue that is far from black and white. Detailing his experiences both as a border guard and then in trying to build a life after leaving the service, we learn more about how difficult life is like living near the border, told through a stream of easy-to-read, touching anecdotes that pose more questions than they answer.Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC with no obligation to review.
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  • Phil
    January 1, 1970
    This book is best described as skittish. Whilst the writing is good, the editing or structure really needs work. It almost appears if the author has taken his diary and removed the dates. One paragraph telling one story will end and the next will be completely unrelated. I also think the dream sequences are filler and offer very little to the reader. All in all this felt like a good writer without a story to tell. It wasn't until the end and the section on Jose did we feel like we got anything t This book is best described as skittish. Whilst the writing is good, the editing or structure really needs work. It almost appears if the author has taken his diary and removed the dates. One paragraph telling one story will end and the next will be completely unrelated. I also think the dream sequences are filler and offer very little to the reader. All in all this felt like a good writer without a story to tell. It wasn't until the end and the section on Jose did we feel like we got anything that wanted you to keep reading.
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  • Michael Veselik
    January 1, 1970
    Would give this a 4.5 if I had that option. the first part of the book is a little slow and disjointed, but is important to understand the second half. Cantu brings a unique perspective on the border to an important debate. He also shares the voice of those deeply affected by a majorly flawed immigration system. I learned a great deal about this artificial construct of the border and how it has shaped a deadly and bloody history. Definitely worth a read!
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  • Andrew
    January 1, 1970
    One of those lyrical takes on current events told from the ground level. An American border guard of distant Mexican heritage patrols the desert in Arizona. The border gets too close to him, and he brings it very close to you.
  • Kristen Beverly
    January 1, 1970
    Lots of really great food for thought.
  • Ryan
    January 1, 1970
    A stirring and heartfelt look at the crisis unfolding daily on the US-Mexico border. Cantu writes with compassion and heart, and his words sing with both love and mourning. Whatever you think you know about immigration, you owe it to yourself to see the spotlight Cantu has shone on this incendiary topic. Highly recommended!
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    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.
  • Charles
    January 1, 1970
    The Line Becomes a River is an interesting book on a subject I would probably not have really thought to read about. Generally law enforcement autobiographies seem to hinge on people who have been involved in high profile cases or with high profile agencies/areas (e.g NYPD), which is something that sets this book aside from the others. Definitely a plus there.However, the book falls into a number of other somewhat predictable traps, such as the "personal journey" narrative, covering the change i The Line Becomes a River is an interesting book on a subject I would probably not have really thought to read about. Generally law enforcement autobiographies seem to hinge on people who have been involved in high profile cases or with high profile agencies/areas (e.g NYPD), which is something that sets this book aside from the others. Definitely a plus there.However, the book falls into a number of other somewhat predictable traps, such as the "personal journey" narrative, covering the change in the author's attitudes as experiences shape his approach to the world - or how the world should approach the problem. A little expected in a way.I would have preferred to have known a bit more about the Border Patrol's work and structure, and the day-to-day for the agents who work there, but there was some interesting content in there about how this is shaped - of course not enough to be useful to the opposition. The first part could have been a good spot to flesh this out at the expense of the very in-depth third part (no spoilers!).The conversations in Spanish I found to be more than a little frustrating, as I could only guess at what was being said. They certainly serve a useful tool in that they demonstrate the strength of the relationship between the two parties speaking, but I couldn't help but feel I missed out a bit.The book took a little while to read - more down to my circumstances than the content - but is written in a very readable style, despite lacking a bit of ooomph and directions at times. So don't expect this to take more than a weekend if you want to pick it up and can push some time into it.Overall, despite its weakpoints, certainly recommended.
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  • Marilyn Smith
    January 1, 1970
    This is a "third rail" book about the US/Mexico border. Cantu's daily experience as an agent focuses on the dichotomy of the border. These words say it best for me about this extraordinary piece: searing, brilliant,barbaric and ultimately human.