The Public Square

Patricia Syoen on “The Devil’s Highway


On September 12 Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil's Highway will be speaking at the University YMCA Friday Forum from 12:00 noon to 1:30 pm. At 5:00 pm to 8:pm there will be a book signing event at Pages for All Ages. Come and enjoy a reading, signing, music and refreshments. In The Devil's Highway Urrea's brilliant investigative reporting tells us what went wrong. In 2001, 26 men entered the desert. This desert of southern Arizona is the deadly region known as the Devil's Highway, a desert so harsh and desolate that even the Border Patrol is afraid to travel through it, a place that for hundreds of years has stolen men's souls and swallowed their blood. Only 12 of the men made it out. This book tells the story from many different perspectives and with compassion for all involved: the survivors, the coyotes (those who get paid to lead people across the border) and the Border Patrol. This account gives names and faces to the men trying to come to the United States to secure a better life for their families back home. Luis Alberto Urrea is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Award, an American Book Award, a Western States Book Award, and a Colorado Book Award and he has been inducted into the Latino Literary Hall of Fame. The Devil's Highway was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. Urrea's most recent book is The Hummingbirds Daughter He currently teaches at the University of Illinois, the Chicago Campus. These events are sponsored by the New Sanctuary Movement in Champaign-Urbana.