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On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey
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HMH Books 2019
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Description

The legendary travel writer drives the entire length of the US–Mexico border, then goes deep into the hinterland, on the back roads of Chiapas and Oaxaca, to uncover the rich, layered world behind today's brutal headlines.
Paul Theroux has spent his life crisscrossing the globe in search of the histories and peoples that give life to the places they call home. Now, as immigration debates boil around the world, Theroux has set out to explore a country key to understanding our current discourse: Mexico. Just south of the Arizona border, in the desert region of Sonora, he finds a place brimming with vitality, yet visibly marked by both the US Border Patrol to the north and mounting discord from within. With the same humanizing sensibility he employed in Deep South, Theroux stops to talk with residents, visits Zapotec mill workers in the highlands, and attends a Zapatista party meeting, communing with people of all stripes who remain south of the border even as family members brave the journey north.
From the writer praised for his "curiosity and affection for humanity in all its forms" (New York Times Book Review), On the Plain of Snakes is an exploration of a region in conflict.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
10/08/2019
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780544866485
ASIN:
B07LC9F6ZY
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Paul Theroux. (2019). On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey. HMH Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Paul Theroux. 2019. On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey. HMH Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Paul Theroux, On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey. HMH Books, 2019.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Paul Theroux. On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey. HMH Books, 2019. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Oct 04, 2019 11:41:09
Date Updated:
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        PAUL THEROUX is the author of many highly acclaimed books. His novels include The Lower River and The Mosquito Coast, and his renowned travel books include Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and Dark Star Safari.

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shortDescription

Legendary travel writer Paul Theroux drives the entire length of the US–Mexico border, then goes deep into the hinterland, on the back roads of Chiapas and Oaxaca, to uncover the rich, layered world behind today's brutal headlines.
Paul Theroux has spent his life crisscrossing the globe in search of the histories and peoples that give life to the places they call home. Now, as immigration debates boil around the world, Theroux has set out to explore a country key to understanding our current discourse: Mexico. Just south of the Arizona border, in the desert region of Sonora, he finds a place brimming with charm, yet visibly marked by both the US Border Patrol looming to the north and mounting discord from within. With the same humanizing sensibility he employed in Deep South, Theroux stops to talk with residents, visits Zapotec mill workers in the highlands, and attends a Zapatista party meeting, communing with people of all stripes who remain south of...

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title
On the Plain of Snakes
fullDescription

The legendary travel writer drives the entire length of the US–Mexico border, then goes deep into the hinterland, on the back roads of Chiapas and Oaxaca, to uncover the rich, layered world behind today's brutal headlines.
Paul Theroux has spent his life crisscrossing the globe in search of the histories and peoples that give life to the places they call home. Now, as immigration debates boil around the world, Theroux has set out to explore a country key to understanding our current discourse: Mexico. Just south of the Arizona border, in the desert region of Sonora, he finds a place brimming with vitality, yet visibly marked by both the US Border Patrol to the north and mounting discord from within. With the same humanizing sensibility he employed in Deep South, Theroux stops to talk with residents, visits Zapotec mill workers in the highlands, and attends a Zapatista party meeting, communing with people of all stripes who remain south of the border even as family members brave the journey north.
From the writer praised for his "curiosity and affection for humanity in all its forms" (New York Times Book Review), On the Plain of Snakes is an exploration of a region in conflict.

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reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        June 3, 2019
        Travel writer Theroux (Deep South) finds a Mexico that’s vibrant but shadowed by violence, corruption, and America in this dark-edged but ultimately hopeful travelogue. Theroux shudders at Mexico’s soulless northern border cities, their touristy downtowns surrounded by grim factory districts and squalid urban sprawl dotted with Walmarts, their newspapers filled with accounts of drug cartel massacres. In Mexico City he gets shaken down for bribes by predatory policemen, whom many Mexicans fear more than the narcotraficantes. Farther south, though, Theroux’s spirits lift in towns that retain their indigenous culture of colorful Day of the Dead festivals, exuberant transgenderism, and close-knit communities—though many locals have moved to the U.S. to find work. (He includes candid conversations with migrants about their travails in America and calls President Trump’s immigration policies “barbaric.”) Finally, Theroux discovers a virtual paradise at a Zapatista Rebel Autonomous Municipality in Chiapas, where there are no “American products or American influence,” and instead “an utter indifference to El Norte.” There, he meets Subcomandante Marcos, a “philosopher-leader” whose “flashing” eyes, “sinuous dialectics,” and poetic denunciations of neoliberalism he admires, as Theroux relays in perhaps the most starry-eyed passages he has ever written. Theroux’s usual excellent mix of vivid reportage—“worshippers crouched on the floor arranging candles... drinking Coca-Cola and ritually burping”—and empathetic rumination is energized by a new spark of political commitment. Armchair travelers will find an astute, familiar guide in Theroux.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        August 1, 2019

        Veteran globetrotter Theroux takes to the road on the U.S. border and into Mexico, traversing the entire length of the U.S.-Mexico border. The author shares his observations of migrants, the ever-present cartels, a protest of mothers who lost their children during another protest, and girls dressed up for their First Holy Communion. Theroux joyfully describes many of his meals. But on a somber note, corruption and lawlessness are crippling. Cartels deal not only in drugs but also human trafficking. Construction is unchecked, and zoning and environmentally fragile areas are ignored, with Walmart one of the worst offenders. Movingly, mothers tell Theroux that they do not want to make a new life in America, they simply hope to earn enough to keep their families together in Mexico. Returning migrants tell him what they miss most about America its cultural diversity, and if they work hard, they can make good money, whereas in Mexico, a person works hard but still earns very little. The author found that Mexicans blame both governments for the border crossing problems that were once less complicated. VERDICT Tourists headed to Mexico and those interested in the current migrant situation will learn a great deal.--Susan G. Baird, formerly with Oak Lawn P.L., IL

        Copyright 2019 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        August 1, 2019
        A veteran traveler explores our complex neighbor to the south. Accomplished travel writer and novelist Theroux (Figures in a Landscape: People and Places, 2018, etc.) has been writing about his travels for more than 50 years. Like his previous accounts, this journey, narrated in his usual, easygoing, conversational style, includes countless lovely descriptions of Mexico's landscapes and insights into the country's history and literature, including Mexican magical realism. Being a naturally inquisitive guy, Theroux talks to the people he meets, everywhere and often, because "it is in the nature of travel to collect and value telling anecdotes." This "shifty migrant" chronicles his navigation of cities, towns, and tiny villages on both side of the borderlands, a "front line that sometimes seems a war, at other times an endless game of cat and mouse." Most Mexicans Theroux met "said urgently to me, 'Be careful.' " He cites harrowing statistics of the violence that occurs near the border. "On their trip through Mexico," he writes, "...migrants are brutalized, abducted, or forced to work on Mexican farms, as virtual slaves. In the past decade, 120,000 migrants have disappeared en route, murdered or dead and lost, succumbing to thirst or starvation." The author also discusses NAFTA and how it turned the "Mexican side of the border into a plantation, a stable supply of cheap labor." He writes about the thousands of gallons of water at aid stations destroyed by the border police and his encounters with Mexican police who, with a wink and a nod, accepted bribes for made-up charges. Outside Mexico City, he visited Frida Kahlo's Blue House, a "kind of habitable sculpture." He also experienced a Day of the Dead ceremony and drank homemade mezcal. "I had made friends on the road through the plain of snakes," he writes, "and that had lifted my spirits." Illuminating, literate, and timely--a must-read for those interested in what's going on inside Mexico.

        COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from September 15, 2019
        Theroux, with his impeccable portfolio of literary fiction and travelogues, including Deep South (2015), valiantly ventures further South in a quest to gain a deeper understanding of the Mexican side of this fraught moment between our two countries. Brushing aside dire warnings, he zigzags along the U.S.-Mexico border from Tijuana/San Ysidro to Brownsville/Matamoros. He drives solo along the old Camino Real, braving detours along dirt tracks, sheer drop-offs, and scary encounters with traffic cops through the Mexican interior from Reynosa/McAllen through Monterey and San Luis Potos�, with extended stays in Mexico City, Oaxaca, and San Crist�bal de las Casas. Theroux mines every encounter for its uniquely human story, making friends with erudite and everyday people from those who make mezcal to those who make history. Artfully describing landscapes, he meticulously provides comprehensive historical context at every pueblo, monument, or church, creating a textured portrait of a beleaguered country. This is a personal book, and Theroux does not hesitate to articulate his point of view on a number of topics, allowing for no sacred cows [�cuidado con el realismo m�gico!] as he unapologetically takes into consideration context, anecdotal evidence, and his on-the-road experiences to arrive at his prescription for improving the Mexican situation.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

subtitle
A Mexican Journey
popularity
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