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The Fight to Save Juárez: Life in the Heart of Mexico's Drug War Hardcover – April 1, 2013

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The Fight to Save Juárez: Life in the Heart of Mexico's Drug War + Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent into Darkness + El Narco: Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Ciudad Juarez, a Mexican city with a population of approximately l.3 million, is located just across the border from El Paso, Texas. Since 2007, Juarez has been at the center of a turf war between the two leading Mexican drug cartels; at the same time, it has been the focus of Mexico’s federal government in its intensified campaign against the cartels. Ainslie, born in Mexico City, is a psychologist, author, and documentary filmmaker who currently teaches at the University of Texas. His portrait of Juarez as a city under siege is unrelentingly grim. The rate of murders, kidnappings, and other forms of violence became astronomical. The corruption, already a problem before 2007, became endemic as both the municipal police and the military were infected with money from the competing cartels. Journalists were intimidated, co-opted, or targeted by the cartels for death. At the center of Ainslie’s narrative is the mayor of Juarez, Jose Reyes Ferriz, a figure both heroic and tragic as he strives to fight against a scourge powered by forces that he cannot control, including the insatiable demand for drugs north of the border. This is a tough, depressing, but necessary read if one is to understand the consequences of the war on drugs. --Jay Freeman

Review

"The Fight to Save Juárez is the book we’ve been waiting for that deconstructs a major Mexican city’s descent into agony. Ainslie documents how a perfect storm of marauding drug cartels, corrupt police forces, and unprepared city officials left citizens helpless and terrorized in what became the world’s most murderous city. Significantly, he hammers the prepotent truth that organized crime could not and would not have run amok in Mexico were it not for the collusion of the mobsters’ trusted acolytes—the police, at every level." (John Burnett, National Public Radio)|"This is a deeply reported, razor smart, up-close account of the Great Drug War. This book is absolutely courageous in its fairness and search for answers. Ricardo Ainslie’s story has room for both angels and demons. He finds noble characters struggling under incredible strain—and threat of death—to do the right thing, to try to save Ciudad Juárez from itself. And he finds evil and the corruption and incompetence that lets the bad bury the good. If you want to begin to understand the violence and chaos that have laid siege to our neighbor’s house, this is the book." (William Booth, Washington Post Bureau Chief for Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean)|"Ricardo Ainslie’s The Fight to Save Juárez couldn’t be more timely. It is also of vital relevance: headlines of beheadings and massacres in Ciudad Juárez have captured the world’s attention, but Ainslie deftly goes deeper into the story and helps us understand what makes Ciudad Juárez tick. Through interviews with Mexican officials, citizens, and even some drug traffickers, Ainslie offers an insightful view into what has occurred in Ciudad Juárez as the drug war has devolved in the border city. The interviews are strong and intimacy with the characters ever apparent." (Malcolm Beith, author of The Last Narco: Inside the Hunt for El Chapo, The World’s Most-Wanted Drug Lord)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press (April 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0292738900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0292738904
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #482,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John V on April 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The Fight to Save Juarez is an excellent book for anyone wanting to know how Ciudad Juarez has coped with the brutal cycle of violence plaguing the city. I read Bowden and while I enjoyed his writing on Juarez, The Fight to Save Juarez gave me the book that I hoped for, namely a thorough assessment of the effect the drug war is having on the City, particularly from the key political players as the various Mexican law enforcement agencies charged with dealing with the situation. Ricardo Ainslie had access to Mayor Ferriz, who is among the central figures of the book. The chapter on the Villas de Salvarcar massacre was especially powerful. In addition to the political leaders you meet members of the press, a Narco's girlfriend, grieving loved ones, all of whom share their stories on how the violence has affected them. The book takes the reader through many of the most well known events that have plagued Juarez such as the Villas de Salvarcar massacre, the murder of the consulate employee, the car bombing, all within the backdrop of the mayor's efforts to pacify his city. I highly recommend this book, which along with This Love is Not for Cowards are the two best books on Juarez and the current cycle of violence affecting the City.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By cathy on April 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book was interesting and informative. The author wrote a accurate account of what has happened in Juarez and why it occured. He uses facts, statistics and personal stories to portray how living and working in Juarez has become so difficult. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to know detailed facts about the struggle of the people and government of Juarez.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Koester on May 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In many ways, I hate to give a star rating to a book like this. Giving it two stars can indicate I don't think people should read it, which isn't the case at all. So, let me start with the positives.

First off, Ainslie gives a clear-headed look at the problems contributing to the drug cartel problem in Juarez and Mexico. He doesn't go the lazy route of many who just blame it all on America. Instead, he lays the blame where it belongs: Corruption, from top to bottom, throughout Mexico. Corrupt police. Corrupt or incompetent judiciary. Corrupt politicians. Ainslie shows special contempt for the judiciary, pointing out that though fewer than 2 percent of those arrested ever get jail time, the judiciary is the one part of Mexican society that still refuses to accept any blame for the country's problems.

Anybody, including me, who has been following and reading about the Mexican drug war for a long period of time will get discouraged and decide there is no one who can be trusted. As official after official gets accused of being in the pay of the cartels, you begin to wonder if there is any way out of the mess. So, I also appreciated Ainslie's look at some brave officials doing all they can to help Mexico. Most notably, the book follows José Reyes Ferriz's efforts during his stint as mayor from 2007-2010. I was heartened to read about a few heroes in the fight, so as to give me at least a little hope that Mexico can be saved.

Ainslie's writing and reporting on the Villas de Salvarcar massacre is amazingly powerful. Reading about the neighborhood and the anguish they went through brought me to tears several times. I'm glad I read the book for more perspective on that alone.

Ainslie also gave a new and interesting perspective on the killings of the U.S.
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Format: Hardcover
I was very lucky to have been asked to do a peer review of this manuscript during the publishing process, as I got to read this admirable work before almost anyone else. I get asked to do a lot of reviews of books dealing with Mexico's drug war, and while I love expanding my knowledge of the subject, sometimes the material gets a bit repetitive. That's just the nature of our business; there are certain facts and issues you have to hit in case your readers are wholly unfamiliar with the topic. However, what I loved the most about The Fight is the fact that Ainslie manages to work drug war facts and history into a gripping narrative, rather than the norm, which is the other way around.

The Fight tells the story (among others) of the descent of Ciudad Juárez into a violent narco hell during the tenure of former Mayor José Reyes Ferriz roughly between 2007-2010). While the narrative is primarily from Ferriz's perspective, Ainslie also delves into the lives of a cartel member's mistress, a human rights activist, a photojournalist, and others. He describes in heart-wrenching details events like the Villas del Salvarcar massacre, where gang members on a cartel payroll ambushed a party and killed several innocent teenagers and young adults in a case of mistaken identity. You can feel Ferriz's anxiety in dealing with corrupt police officials and trying to find someone willing, able and courageous enough to take a leadership role that often equates to suicide.

To say that Ainslie had an in-the-trenches perspective while researching this book is an understatement. He had first-hand access to the Mayor, members of for President Felipe Calderón's cabinet, and citizens on the street whose stories tend to be far more fascinating than anything you can find in fiction.
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