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Tracks in the Sand: A Tale of the Border Patrol Perfect Paperback – May 12, 2008

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Product Details

  • Perfect Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Signcutter Press; 1st edition (May 12, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615184308
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615184302
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,833,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kent Lundgren confesses that he was, at best, an indifferent student in college during the 1960s, lacking clear direction, desires, or goals. But then fortuitous circumstances directed him to El Paso, Texas and the U.S. Border Patrol, and in the American west he found his way of life.

"Had you asked me in college to list fifty occupations that interested me," he says, "law enforcement wouldn't have even shown up on the list. But it turned out that it suited me well for over thirty years. You might say I found a home behind the badge."

Lundgren says he is a westerner to the core and the Border Patrol was his spiritual home but, "The drive of a career took me from El Paso to Miami, Florida as a Border Patrolman. From there I went on to Alaska as an Immigration Inspector working at the Port of Entry on the fabled Alcan Highway. I'd always wanted to see Alaska."

It was quite a change from Miami. "We were miles from anywhere," he says. "The nearest supermarket in those days (mid-1970s) was in Fairbanks, 300 miles north, or Whitehorse in the Yukon, 300 miles the other way - on a gravel road. Shoot, it was 93 miles to first crossroads!" But the isolated existence suited him. "As General Phil Sheridan said of Texas in the 1840s, 'It's great country for a man but it's hell on women and horses!' He had that right!" The time gave him a taste for Robert Service poetry and tall tales.

After Alaska, his career took him to Michigan, Colorado, Washington State, Puerto Rico, and finally back to Washington. During those years he generally chased bad men; when he retired the first time in 1997 he was the Supervisory Special Agent for the Criminal Alien Group in Seattle. After a brief sabbatical he returned to duty as a Deportation Officer for special projects. Among those was trying (with little success, he notes) to get violent criminal aliens returned to difficult countries in Southeast Asia and the Horn of Africa. "The Supreme Court and diplomacy stood squarely in the way of getting those guys back home - where they would no longer be able to hurt Americans. It's a long, sad story."

Along the way he collected what he calls a hat full of stories and anecdotes. Friends told him more than once that he ought to get some of them down on paper. "That sort of recounting of old times didn't appeal to me; it just sounded like a loose collection of tales. But then one day it occurred to me that you can write a good, entertaining story that is true, while not being precisely factual. So I began and over the course of two years or so Tracks in the Sand developed itself. As it says on the cover, 'It didn't all happen just this way - but it could have.' It's a true story but there are only a few good, hard facts in it. The reader will know them when he sees them."

Lundgren is now thoroughly retired in central Washington State. He refers to himself as a Leisure Consultant but admits that the keyboard can be a powerful force and there may be a sequel to Tracks in the Sand.










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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on February 15, 2009
Format: Perfect Paperback
From a 13 year veteran of the United States Border Patrol

Tracks in the Sand is a refreshing "fictional" work in a very limited field otherwise marked by mediocre works. Lundgren clearly relied upon his years of intimate experience as a United States Border Patrol Agent to successfully convey the grittiness, in vivid detail, of working and living along the southern border, particularly the El Paso region (there are stark differences between areas such as San Diego and El Paso for example). Of particular importance is the era engrossed by the book, beginning around 1969.

I used the term "fictional" in quotation marks because, as any agent will quickly realize upon reading this book, Lundgren drew upon real experiences to form the basis of the book. Sure, he may have changed names, possibly locations, and maybe some other details, but I believe the book is more fact based than fiction. Lundgren managed to marry non-fiction and fiction in such a manner that the appeal of this book transcends those in the business of border law enforcement and markets toward the Wambaugh (Lines and Shadows) crowd, looking for a novel based approach to real world events, describing the lowest level of occurrence (in the field as opposed to the halls of Congress). In fact, Lundgren, if he chooses, could possibly choose to compete with Wambaugh on the border side of enforcement writing whereas Wambuagh clearly has the LAPD side locked.

It should also be understood that Tracks in the Sand is not a historical analysis of border policies or the agency nor is it necessarily contributory to the immigration debate. Instead, Lundgren purposefully chose to "carve out" a niche in writing a "rubber meets the road" book, where he accurately describes human events that result from policy and law.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Thibault on January 26, 2009
Format: Perfect Paperback
Last year's Cohen Brothers film, "No Country for Old Men" reminded me of "Tracks." Both take place about the same time period - the beginning, as author Kent Lundgren puts it, of the border's "long slide into chaos." And both involve traditional law-men struggling to come to grips with the emergence of a violent new world. But unlike "Country," "Tracks" comes to us through the eyes of a neophyte, Border Patrolman Ken Travis, twenty-one and fresh from the Academy. Innocent like most of us, Ken is an ideal, if unknowing, guide to the underworld of the border region.
A friend sent me this book at a very good time. I had just gotten off for the summer (teaching) and was packing for a week in Maine. I brought no other books but ended up wishing I had, because (try as I might to ration it) I could not manage to make the book last more than three days. I started it on the plane, continued it at night, then found myself reading by day when I should have been out on the lake. "Tracks" has everything - suspense, human drama, detection and shoot-'em-up action - and once started, you cannot put it down.
Written by an insider, this book exudes technical credibility. Technical polish, on the other hand, it does not always. Like many small-press works, "Tracks" would have benefited here and there from professional editorial input or proofreading. Given the story's strong geographical element, too, a map would have been tremendously helpful. But polished or not, it's a page-turner. Given that the author is Chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFBPO), we might expect "Tracks" to be a polemical novel. It is not. To all appearances it is, rather, a sincere and sympathetic synthesis of his experience in the Patrol, with all the marks of "true" fiction.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Heck on December 30, 2008
Format: Perfect Paperback
Tracks in the Sand proved to be a smoothly-written, entertaining novel. There is a hard ring of insider's truth to the tale. The narrative pace draws the reader along steadily, one chapter flowing smoothly into another, keeping the reader deeply engaged with the credible, interesting characters. Some of them we wish we knew; others, we hope we never meet. Like Wambaugh, the author gives the reader an inside look at law enforcement, with its occasionally skewed view of the reality most of us take for granted. In this particular case it's law enforcement that's never been well covered in a novel; there is an education to be found in this book for those who like cop books - or books about people of a different sort. In the story we see the beginnings of the social disaster now going on in Mexico and along our border, and we have an insider's look at those who've brought it about and others who've suffered with it. I recommend it highly; it's well worth the price.
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Having interacted nonprofessionally with several Border Patrol agents over a period of many years, I thought I had a reasonable understanding of what being a Border Patrol agent entailed. This “fictional” tale showed me that there was much more to the job than my naivete had led me to believe. I found Lundgren’s novel thoroughly believable, disturbingly informative, and highly engaging—to the point that I repeatedly found an excuse to read just one more chapter before putting it down. My biggest disappointment with the book was that it ended long before I was ready for it to. I very much enjoyed it, and I hope Mr. Lundgren will follow it up with additional tales of the Border Patrol. I would certainly be a reader.
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