Read Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter's Journey Through a Country's Descent into Darkness by Alfredo Corchado Online


In the last six years, more than eighty thousand people have been killed in the Mexican drug war, and drug trafficking there is a multibillion-dollar business. In a country where the powerful are rarely scrutinized, noted Mexican American journalist Alfredo Corchado refuses to shrink from reporting on government corruption, murders in Juarez, or the ruthless drug cartels oIn the last six years, more than eighty thousand people have been killed in the Mexican drug war, and drug trafficking there is a multibillion-dollar business. In a country where the powerful are rarely scrutinized, noted Mexican American journalist Alfredo Corchado refuses to shrink from reporting on government corruption, murders in Juarez, or the ruthless drug cartels of Mexico. A paramilitary group spun off from the Gulf cartel, the Zetas, controls key drug routes in the north of the country. In 2007, Corchado received a tip that he could be their next target—and he had twenty four hours to find out if the threat was true.Rather than leave his country, Corchado went out into the Mexican countryside to trace investigate the threat. As he frantically contacted his sources, Corchado suspected the threat was his punishment for returning to Mexico against his mother’s wishes. His parents had fled north after the death of their young daughter, and raised their children in California where they labored as migrant workers. Corchado returned to Mexico as a journalist in 1994, convinced that Mexico would one day foster political accountability and leave behind the pervasive corruption that has plagued its people for decades.But in this land of extremes, the gap of inequality—and injustice—remains wide. Even after the 2000 election that put Mexico’s opposition party in power for the first time, the opportunities of democracy did not materialize. The powerful PRI had worked with the cartels, taking a piece of their profit in exchange for a more peaceful, and more controlled, drug trade. But the party’s long-awaited defeat created a vacuum of power in Mexico City, and in the cartel-controlled states that border the United States. The cartels went to war with one another in the mid-2000s, during the war to regain control of the country instituted by President Felipe Calderón, and only the violence flourished. The work Corchado lives for could have killed him, but he wasn't ready to leave Mexico—not then, maybe never. Midnight in Mexico is the story of one man’s quest to report the truth of his country—as he raced to save his own life. ...

Title : Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter's Journey Through a Country's Descent into Darkness
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781594204395
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 304 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter's Journey Through a Country's Descent into Darkness Reviews

  • Manray9
    2019-03-19 09:54

    After reading several press reviews, I approached Alfredo Corchado’s Midnight in Mexico with interest. Expecting an insightful exposé of Mexico’s troubles and a frightening recitation of Corchado’s experiences as an international journalist, I found instead an account by a journalist who was either extraordinarily naïve or attempting to create a television thriller script out of very little material. If an experienced investigative journalist goes to present day Mexico and reports on corrupt government officials and their ties to brutal drug cartels, is it surprising that he would become a target of threats and intimidation? In fact, Corchado was the victim of no overt retaliation, but received threatening telephone calls and encountered a minor incident of intimidation in a restaurant in Texas. Although he knew police officials, politicians and federal agents on both sides of the border, when he was mildly intimidated in the restaurant in Texas, all he wanted to do is call his girlfriend who was 700 miles away. Why? What could she do? When he wrote a sensational print story and his girlfriend did a TV report implicating the military, government officials, intelligence officers and the drug cartels in a gruesome video-recorded interrogation and multiple murders, they were subsequently threatened. She said with amazement: “What did we get ourselves into?” As Corchado admitted, Mexico is lawless. The justice system does not function. The government is riddled with large-scale corruption and the drug cartels are brutal to the point of insanity. My question was: What did Corchado and his girlfriend think would happen? The most enlightening chapters were those on the history of the drug cartels and the attempts at cooperative operations by the Calderon and G.W. Bush administrations. The rest of the book, based on Corchado’s own story, is weak. For a seasoned international investigative reporter, Mr. Corchado seems too emotional and too often paralyzed by fear. Maybe as a Mexican government official recommended to him – he should stick to tourism stories.

  • L.A. Starks
    2019-03-03 07:47

    This book about Mexico is written by one of the bravest U.S. men alive practicing journalism. Many of his Mexican colleagues who just as bravely reported on their own country have been killed.This book is required reading for people who want to understand the now-systemic intertwining of drug cartels with Mexican policing and government. Anyone seeking to better understand Mexico should put this book at the top of her or his TBR list.Kudos to the Dallas Morning News for its support of Corchado.

  • Perri
    2019-03-06 14:39

    Made it 100 pages into part 3. I would condense as: American Journalist of Mexican birth, reporting on the drug wars in Mexico, hears rumors he's on a hit list. Contacts source who verifies he may be on a hit list. Calls other sources who can't confirm he's on hit list but recommend he leave Mexico pronto. Plans to leave after hearing from one more source that it's highly likely after reporting on drug trafficking in Mexico, he's on someone's hit list. On a scale of 1-5, he's x-z. Or not. Also there are lots of cartels that wage wars for power in Mexico. NAFTA hasn't helped, new democratic elections haven't helped, and the government is corrupt. Not the book I was hoping to read to learn more about our southern neighbors.

  • Max Carmichael
    2019-03-02 11:26

    Who, in Mr. Corchado's journey from rural childhood to privileged member of the international press, gave him the notion that devoting an entire book to his feelings would be a good idea? Stylistically, he occasionally paints a vivid picture of the world outside himself, but structurally, this memoir zigs and zags self-indulgently and incoherently in space and time, reminding me somewhat of the later work of the equally self-indulgent American journalist Charles Bowden.This just goes to prove that people rise to positions of power and influence by whole-heartedly adopting the dominant paradigms of society: belief in one's "country," belief in European-derived large-scale institutions like "the press." Nations like Mexico and the U.S. were invented by the European elites who divided up the world for their own imperial benefit during the past few centuries. The press has always functioned as a form of social control, to keep people engaged in the business of those elites, whether pro or con. All of Mr. Corchado's hand-wringing about his "betrayed country" is a waste of his energy and our time. The less we identify with manipulative abstractions like nations, countries, or homelands, the better we can tend to our own communities and adapt to changing conditions.

  • Charlene Intriago
    2019-03-27 12:54

    I liked this book. I knew a little bit about Mexico and the drug cartels from news stories over the past few years, but this book pretty much gives us the "why" as to the rise of the cartels, issues within the Mexican government and the role the United States (government and citizens) has played in both. It is a non-fiction book but an easier read than most because the author gives us his life story set within Mexico's history. There are a lot of people mentioned in this book and at times it is hard to keep up with them all.

  • Shawn
    2019-03-04 14:32

    Worth reading, especially if you're watching "The Bridge" on TV.

  • Klagleder
    2019-03-04 12:26

    Gave it five stars, I have to admit, partially because I found myself having spent time in most of the major placenames from the book--during the same time periods in some cases.So not only was it well written, it was a splash of nostalgia, for though Mexico is still right down the road from where I live the frontera has unfortunately been off limits for me since Feb. 2010, the last time I drove across into Coahuila.You'll sink right into Corchado's journey, and you'll have a good understanding of Mexico's condition.As the author writes early on, the book is not an exhaustive history of politics and historical figures--and it's a good thing. It is mostly a personal book. The history lessons needed to display his story come simply.One day, maybe the borderlands will be accessible again. So close to us, yet we miss Mexico.

  • Liese Sherwood-Fabre
    2019-03-04 06:26

    Mr. Corchado blends his own life's story with that of Mexico's political and economic history and provides an eye-witness account of the changes brought about by the PRI's lost election and the rise of the drug cartels. Having lived and worked in Mexico City, this book proved very insightful to me about what the situation was like after I left in 1994. I have seen how the deterioration of security has affected both friends and family following the change in administrations, and can only be hopeful--just like Mr. Corcahdo--that the future will be better.

  • Betty McMahon
    2019-02-26 08:40

    I read a lot about Mexico and was hoping for some fresh perspective from a Mexican journalist. But he doesn't deliver. For someone who had not been keeping up on Mexican drug cartels and politics this book could be enlightening, but otherwise it's all warmed-over info told by someone who's not particularly interesting. He says in the acknowledgments that he had to learn how to write something besides journalism to write this book; he should have practiced more because this book falls short. Sorry; I had high hopes ...

  • Eric Sutter
    2019-03-15 06:32

    I've read many books about modern Mexico, but I think that this one has been the best yet. While there isn't a ton of new information in it, the way Corchado weaves in his and his family's story helps to contextualize the significance of many key events in the past 50 years of Mexican history in a way most books of this ilk are unable to.

  • Melissa Gámez
    2019-03-24 13:35

    I thoroughly love this book! I recommend it to anybody interested in the current state of Mexico as related to its history. Corchado's manner of connecting himself personally to historical events as a photojournalist and as a Mexican-American, makes his book humane and insightful.

  • Donna
    2019-03-05 06:38

    Scary. Scary. Scary.More than 250 large American cities where Mexican drug cartels operate.People being threatened and killed by these drug cartels in the northern parts of border states and beyond, not just in border cities.Mexicans swarming into the US fleeing from lives with too much change... where they are no longer able to make a living in traditional ways, and more than 10% of the population are permanently categorized as non-employed and non-student, but who are instead a part of a drug cartel.Drug cartel wars in which body counts are in the thousands along the border, with unbelievable gruesome torture (which the author was unable to describe graphically)Too many tunnels for smuggling to count between Mexico and the US, and more sophisticated than many government tunnels today. In today's technology, you can see underwater ancient cities and old cities buried under jungles. It is hard to believe that these tunnels have not already been discovered and are allowed to operate because of corruption.More than 170 government border and protection agents being convicted of accepting money from cartels in one year... how many others were not caught?Corrupt policemen and a "justice" system dependent on bribes... which you pay instantly or go to jail.And even more corrupt politicians at all levels of the government including the federal level.This is scary enough, but you might think you do not need to travel to Mexico. But when you consider NAFTA and realize that Mexico with all its corruption and poverty could become essentially a part of the US and Canada, then the situation becomes even more scary.At this point in the review, I would like to state that I am not an American citizen or resident. I am a Canadian who speaks only one language. So I am speaking with the viewpoint of an outsider.Recently my husband and I traveled from Big Bend National Park along the border to San Diego, including driving through one area in which some border patrol agents were ambushed and killed by a drug cartel. We probably have seen more of this area of the US than most Americans. We also live in a border city separated from the US by a river. During this trip, we saw the differences between our border cities and those in Mexico which have been taken over by drug cartels and abandoned by many Mexicans. We were stopped by border patrol agents at roadblocks a few times. We occasionally like to camp in national or state forests because of the seclusion. We no longer camp in these forests or even in national parks because so many of them even in BC, Canada, have been taken over by drug cartels for grow ops. Signs warned people about being careful while camping in any parks within 40 miles of the border. We did not camp at all.Things have changed drastically in 40 years.We spent a day in San Diego near the border sight seeing and shopping in a nice mall. During the day, I heard English only when clerks spoke to me. All the conversation in the checkout lanes, in the announcements, and among the customers was in Spanish. Legal Mexican immigrants and American families with Mexican roots number more than 10% of the US population, and it is increasing. This is significant enough to swing most elections.We could not sign up for any daily bus tours to take us into Tijuana. There was not enough demand for these trips.I realize that the way this is written, someone might think that I am equating drug traffickers and legal Mexican immigrant families. I am not. I am simply showing that the culture along the border is different now. In my opinion, the US needs skilled, hard working immigrants. This is a totally different issue from the terror that seems to be spreading along the border into the US. We have traveled recently to both north western and north eastern Mexico and we found our trips inland to be very discouraging. Because of these experiences, it was easier to understand the economic and family conditions that he described because we have seen some of them. Alfredo Corchado is a Mexican American who has chosen to return to Mexico and live there permanently despite the threats against his life for his investigative reporting of drug cartels.He is sensitive, he loves Mexico and wants to see it come to its potential despite the continual setbacks that have driven many Mexicans out of Mexico. He is not sensational in his writing. His life has been dedicated to Mexico and wanting it to get out of the control of corrupt politicians and drug cartels. He is not trying to persuade; he is only recounting his story.He has more bravery and dedication than most people in the world. This book is scary; the author is inspiring.

  • Jeff Scott
    2019-03-12 14:50

    Alfredo Corchad’s story is a personal one. As he documents Mexico as a reporter for the Dallas Morning News, he is also Mexican with American roots. He has hope for a Mexico that can rise above the violence and destruction from the drug cartels. It is only until he becomes part of that story does his perspective change and generate this book. After reporting on a peace pact between the cartels and the government, Corchad receives a death threat by one of the Mexican Cartels and forced to leave the country. His story is intended to document both the belief of Mexicans for a better future and how that hope is crushed by corrupt governments and drug cartels. The best part of Corchad’s story is the perspective from Mexico. In the United States, we hear about the violence fleetingly on the news. It’s a far different experience living in Mexico where not only is your own life under threat, but those of your loved ones. If you open a business, you have to pay protection money. The money and power held by these cartels makes it where there is violence just for sport. As evidenced by the killing of women near the El Paso border. There is definitely a marriage here between Corhcad’s reporting and Roberto Bolano’s 2666. When the Mexican government finally does wage war on the cartels, the bloodbath only gets worse. On top of that, the bad economy creates a new generation of young men who can’t find work and can’t afford to go to school. They are a ripe target for new recruits who can make a lot of money with the cartels. The violent end of those stories is documented only too well in this book. Corchad has to navigate contacts both to get the story and save his own skin. Corchad also provides a thorough backstory on the cartels from how they are formed to who the leaders are now. It’s this dedication to get so deep as to be part of the story that really makes the book so engaging. It’s also his hope that perseveres despite the violence. Favorite parts:"In Mexico, they kill you twice: first with a bullet, an ax to your head, or a bath full of acid. Then they spread rumors about you. P. 19Mexico's "democracy" belongs to the politicians, intellectuals, idealists, to the elite and the opportunists, but their vision for Mexico does not always involve consulting the majority of people who live day to day. There is no local ownership. For Mexicans, the higher one's income, the more deeply a person believes in democracy, at least on paper. Mexicans like the taco woman base their lives on Mexico's giant informal market, obeying only the laws that are convenient to obey and taking life as it comes, because mañana, quien sabe—tomorrow, who knows? P. 76"In the United States people die either from a disease--a heart attack, cancer...or a car accident. Here you die one minute to the next, and knowing that makes you want to live life fuller...You're reminded daily of your mortality... p. 254"What is my search for home if not a futile desire for resurrection, a renewal of a wounded spirit, a sentimental attempt to give meaning to not one but two lives, reconciliation with the past? p. 261

  • J.J. Amaworo
    2019-03-23 09:27

    This dazzling memoir begins with a bang. Corchado, the Mexico Bureau Chief of the Dallas Morning News, is about to go to dinner with his beloved partner, Angela, and friends when he gets a phone call from one of his sources. An American journalist in Mexico will be assassinated within twenty-four hours. No one knows the identity of the journalist or even if the rumor is true. But we do know that Corchado has recently been publishing exposés of people in high places, and it’s a fair bet that his head is on the block.This is the stuff of thrillers (the rights to Midnight in Mexico have already been snapped up by Hollywood). One imagines Tom Cruise escaping via the rooftops. But Corchado does no such thing. He finds himself caught in a Hamlet-like dilemma. Stick or twist? Run or wait?What follows is a combination of adventure story, personal memoir, a history of Mexico’s recent past, and a dissection of the drug trade that has devastated families and communities while perversely providing a living for the poor and downtrodden.The book is packed with details about how journalists get close to their sources while somehow avoiding being assassinated. Corchado navigates the system through a combination of luck, bloody-mindedness and sheer chutzpah. At one stage he is kidnapped by a taxi driver. He looks through the back window and sees a car full of hoodlums following them. When the taxi slows down at a busy junction, he jumps out, gets swallowed up in a crowd, and walks home. Quite apart from the derring-do and the historical background, the book is very well-written. Of the images he uses to describe Mexico’s corruption by the drug trade, one stands out: the problem isn’t a tumor that can be removed; it’s a cancer that has spread to every cell of the body.While the book is a pleasure to read, occasionally the dialogue doesn’t ring true. Characters rattle something off in Spanish and then provide an immediate English translation, which isn’t how code-switching works. Also, one wonders how the author can remember people’s exact words years later. Surely he wasn’t taking notes when his life was in danger? My only other caveat is the number of names. I sometimes got overwhelmed and found myself leafing backwards to work out who’s who. But maybe the point is, it doesn’t matter who’s who because you can trust no one.There is a heartbreaking chapter near the end – Corchado’s “rosebud” moment – which provides the fons et origo of his compassion and his sense of mission. And in the end, despite the endemic corruption, the mendacity of those in power, and the sheer bloodsoaked brutality of the cartels, Corchado somehow remains optimistic. Time and again he affirms his love of Mexico and his hope for what the future will bring. It may be midnight in Mexico, but a new dawn must come soon.

  • Russell Sanders
    2019-03-22 09:53

    With Midnight in Mexico, Alfredo Corchado has composed a compelling narrative that is part memoir, part history, part sociology, and part psychology. An accomplished newspaper reporter, the foreign correspondent in Mexico for The Dallas Morning News, Corchado uses his own life—and a death threat upon it—as the framework to tell us about the drug cartel wars in Mexico. His tale reads like a novel, probably because it is all too true, and we who haven’t experienced this sort of thing have a hard time believing that such things take place in the world—and certainly not in a country right at our back door. The corruption, murder, and torture that Corchado reports is very real, and we feel his fear while trying to unravel the mystery of who is trying to kill him. But we also feel his anguish. A Mexican native who grew up in the US, Corchado is drawn back to his homeland, and despite the evils there, the threats there, he finds it hard to leave. This is a man who dearly loves Mexico. So this book is not only a true crime thriller but is also a love story, a tale of a man in love with a country. A man who doesn’t quite understand its attraction, but he loves it, nevertheless. Midnight in Mexico is not a dry, sociological analysis of Mexico’s problems; it is a heartfelt look at a country that has heart and should be great, but isn’t.

  • Harry Brake
    2019-03-19 08:24

    Raw, unfiltered, dramatic, and heartfelt at times. The story of Mexico, the scenes of spots within Mexico City, as well as the danger mixed with corruption that seems to keep unraveling and then raveling, Every country has their share of corruption and the distorition of Mexico as seen through American newspapers comes loosned once living here, I agree totally with Corchado's view as an American reporter, but being from Mexico.I instantly feel in love with the positive and negative aspects of Mexico, fell into resentment over the fact that i had been brainwahsed for so long in seeing Mexico as something through limited blinders, and was grateful for the chance to finally realize the challenges Mexico faces while escaping the heartbreak of stereotyping, racism, and so much more from my mother country. I love the United States, it is my home, yet, I love what Mexico is NOT as porteayed by an American press, and in this case the reporter also felt true to digging in deep to describe abd represent his mother country. Mexico, while often disrespected in other's eyes deserves way more respect once you live here, and this novel does Mexico a GREAT justice by diving into the negative and being able to surface the positive that still remains.

  • Zachariah
    2019-02-27 07:39

    About 100 pages in and I had to call it quits. Was looking for a book about the problems facing Mexico and some insight into how it came to be this way but what I got instead was a book about this one time (in band camp) the author thought he might be the target of a cartel assassination. The author's attempt to build suspense around this yet to be confirmed tip was both unnecessary and unsuccessful in my opinion. Just wanted to learn something not listen to this guy go on and on about his family and how he just HAS to get to the bottom of this possible threat on his life. A threat that in the first pages of the book has the author wondering if he'll be killed leaving his apartment but shortly after (with the hit still unconfirmed) he manages to find the time to take a relaxing nap on the beaches of San Pancho. Because who doesn't think to take a nap on the beach after they've just been threatened by one of the most ruthless criminal organizations in the world, in the home country of said TCO no less. Plus I'm pretty sure if you are writing a book about the incident several years later, the threat from the cartels must not have been that serious but whatever. Oh well, guess I'll be sure to read the dust jacket description more closely from here on.

  • Bonnie
    2019-03-13 09:32

    I came across this book on the library's e-book website. I have traveled with my husband in Mexico many times and have been very sorry to read and see in the news the travails of that country because of the narcotics cartels. As my husband and I with my sister and her husband would be in Playa del Carmen and Cancun (we just got back) it seemed like an appropriate book to read.I found the book very interesting. Mr. Corchado was born in Mexico and is now a citizen of the U.S. Until recently he lived in Mexico City. The tale he tells is depressing and tragic. The cartels have so infiltrated the government, business and people in every walk of life that it is very hard to tell who is trustworthy. Their "soldiers" are savages who terrorize ordinary people, especially women. Drug users in our country are largely responsible for this tragedy as without a market these criminals wouldn't be in business. I am very sorry for those people who are addicted to drugs. In fact, my husband and I are group leaders for the LDS Addiction Recovery Program. However, those who use drugs have at some point made the choice to use them. There are so many innocent people who never made that choice whose lives are seriously impacted by that choice made by other people.

  • Florence
    2019-03-12 10:36

    Alfredo Corchado has straddled the border between Mexico and the United States all his life. He was born in Mexico to a poor family, that later migrated to Texas where they ran a small restaurant. Alfredo became a journalist, based in Mexico City. He was happy with his life there until one day a drug cartel threatened his life and he was forced to become an exile once again. At this point we are given brief history of Mexican politics and the domination by its ruling party, the PRI. When the PRI was finally defeated at the polls after more than 70 years in power, Alfredo and many others who love Mexico looked forward to the democratic institiutions that they hoped would flourish. Alas. The drug cartels took over much of the government. Their violence is legendary. This author loves the country of his birth and regrets that it has never been able to offer a solid, prosperous and safe middle class existance to most of its citizens.

  • Mark Gomez
    2019-03-07 12:43

    Being a son of immigrants, living in the U.S. I have always had a love/hate relationship with Mexico. I take great pride in its culture, but was/am often frustrated at its corruption and stagnation. This book gives first person insight into the complexity of the deep rooted failures of its justice system, leadership and accountability and how it affects its citizens. At the same time, the author's love for his native country is shown in how he describes the Mexican landscape, the city neighborhoods, and popular songs that remind him of all the great things about this country. After finishing the book, I am left with a greater appreciation for its people and a revived hope that things will get better.

  • Robbie Whelan
    2019-03-16 12:27

    Really excellent snapshot of Mexico at rock-bottom during the obscenely violent days of the Calderon drug wars, told by a knowledgeable, engrossing journalist. You get to know Corchado -- down to his taste in music, the strain that reporting put on his romantic life, his deep devotion to Mexico and the idea of national renewal, his reporting methods and the types of sources he cultivated -- quite well, and his voice is sort of addictive. The only thing about this book is that I can't tell if it's another Journalists' Special. I know about a dozen people thanked in the acknowledgments personally, I know what it's like to be a reporter in Mexico, and I know the newspaper business in general -- it's not clear to me that someone without that background, or at the very least without a mild fascination for journalism, or at least high-thrills journalism, would be as taken with this book as I was.

  • James Creechan
    2019-03-16 13:52

    Alfredo Corchado's reports as the "foreign correspondent" in Mexico for the Dallas Morning News have long been must-reading for those who track the progress and set-back of the narco-war in Mexico. His personal contacts and sources in Mexico cover an wide-range of the social spectrum - ordinary Mexicans subject to the whims and vagaries of a roller-coaster economy, those eking out a living within or on the edges a shadowy underworld, double-agents and informers from inside the cartels, lawyers who have chose to serve the drug-lords, intelligence agents who are tracking the moves of narco lieutenants and money launderers, U.S. ambassadors to Mexico, insiders in the Mexican Presidential office (Los Pinos), fellow journalists in Mexico City who are well-respected in their own right (e.g. David Brooks, NY Times), and even the Presidents of Mexico (Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderon). Two of his important sources and one of his good friends died in the fiery plane crash that killed SEGOB Juan Camilo Mouriño in Mexico City, and several other of his informants have been murdered or disappeared.Alfredo is responsible for reporting many important stories such as the gruesome youtube video where 4 Zeta foot soldiers were executed by Police or Army personnel working directly for the Sinaloa Cartel, and where the doomed men fingered officials within Los Pinos (Santiago Vasconcelos) who was also one of Corchado's contacts and possible betrayers. His reports in 2003 and 2004 were the first to regularly refer to a gang of brutal thugs in Cd. Juarez known as La Linea, and they directly threatened with harm for violating the code of "never mentioning their name. He was also directly threatened and intimidated by one of the most brutal sicarios in Mexico when he reported about Los Zetas activity in Dallas, and in Laredo/Nuevo Laredo (Miguel Treviño Morales - El Z-40). But the fourth time he was directly threatened was the most frightening because he didn't know its source and it finally forced him to leave Mexico for a "sojourn" back in his native USA (El Paso, and a fellowship at Harvard). The book begins with events that unfolded after receiving a phone call from an American intelligence agent warning him to "get out now" because some unknown person had issued a direct warning that an American journalist was about to be killed. Mexican journalists are regularly threatened, kidnapped, tortured and murdered — but foreign journalists (especially American) were relatively unscathed. Instead of fleeing immediately, Corchado bravely or foolishly decided that he need to know more about the threat - Why? Why him? Was it because he reported about a rumoured truce organized by representatives of the government and the cartels? Who made the threat? Was it one of the cartels or all of them? Was it the Police? Was it the Army?. This book is not fiction, but describes events that would easily serve as dramatic engines for any number of true-crime or even horror novels. The four threats against Corchado are revealed in the course of this book - beginning and ending with the one that drove him out of the country and back to the US. The other three are described while Corchado takes the reader along for a review of the history of narcotraffic and the developments in the drug wars (most specifically beginning with the sexenio of Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon).There are four "narrative" tracks in this book - the threats made by the cartels or perhaps by government officials, the concise description of the history of powerful cartels and their increasing influence, the difficulties and dangers of doing journalism, and Alfredo's personal struggle to understand his identity and role by describing his relationship with his "bracero parents", Mexican and Mexican-American relatives and with his long-time (and long-suffering) partner Angela Kocherga (also a journalist).The title is intriguing - Midnight in Mexico. Corchado describes how he began his journey as a type of optimistic rediscovery of Mexico precisely when there were rising expectations that it was poised to join the modern world (when the PRI was peacefully ousted by PAN). But those dreams proved illusory as Mexico gradually sank into a morass and as the cartels and drug lords gained ascendancy and corruption invaded all institutions. But there is a note of hesitant optimism at the end of the book in sections where Alfredo describes the incredible strength and "reconciliatory" spirit of the families of the 14 teenagers brutally slain in Salvarcar, Cd. Juarez. The desire of these ordinary people to carry on and work on the unfilled Mexican dream are strong and moving testimonies to the resiliency of the Mexican people, and a reminder to Corchado of the things he had hoped to find when he first went to Mexico in search of the Mexico his parents had left behind.An important book for journalists, those trying to understand Mexican and Chicano identity, and those who want to know why the story of the bloodshed in Mexico has been sadly downplayed and under-reported.

  • Mary Graves
    2019-03-15 13:25

    Build Bridges, Not Walls’ East Hampton StarBy Jack Graves | July 11, 2013 - 9:51amAlfredo Corchado, the prizewinning reporter, whose beat is the Mexican border Jack Graves Alfredo Corchado, the prizewinning Dallas Morning News journalist, whose beat is the dangerous border between the United States and Mexico believes that Mexico and the United States each stand to gain appreciably if the relations between the two “distant neighbors” are strengthened. The Mexican-born Mr. Corchado, a United States citizen, Nieman Fellow and a Woodrow Wilson Scholar has written a wonderful memoir that reads like a thriller and a must-read for those who are interested in current history. Having received four death threats arising from his courageous reporting — one ironically stemming from his revelation of a cartel-government peace pact that angered those on both sides used to huge drug-route kickbacks — Mr. Corchado, who was born in Durango, remains devoted to Mexico, a love that presumably informs his bravery, though at one point in “Midnight” he says at times he wouldn’t mind living a quiet family life in the country with a pet dog. At another point in the gripping account of his struggle with Mexico’s corrupt politicians, the drug cartels, and the Gulf cartel’s heinous hit men, the Zetas, a struggle that continues to this day, his girlfriend tells him that the border is no place for big thoughts, such as he might have entertained during his Nieman Fellow year (2009) at Harvard. Shannon O'Neal, a recent author of Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico, The United States and the Road Ahead believes “Nafta transformed Mexicoband helped secure the economic underpinnings of today’s broadening middle class,” adding that “Mexico, not the Middle East, should be the test case for solidifying market-based democracy.”“. . . In the end, Mexico’s path, of course, depends on Mexicans. No other nation can decide its future. But, through our actions or inactions, the United States can either support Mexico or throw further obstacles in its way. And whichever path Mexico takes will have far-reaching repercussions for the United States.” Both Mr. Corchado and Dr. O’Neil agreed that absent any effective bilateral action in dealing with what sometimes seems the overwhelming drug problem that links both countries — reducing demand for drugs in this country as well as stemming the alarming southerly flow of assault weapons — Mexico might well become another Afghanistan. Mexico’s growing middle class — though the incidence of extreme poverty continues to provide fertile ground for cartel recruitment — offers a realistic hope, the speakers said, that over time, with governmental reform, an end to criminal impunity, a reconstituted judicial system, which is weak today, and a reversal of misguided U.S. immigration policies, can, with the help of an aroused Mexican citizenry, turn that country around. “Yes, it’s been a long night,” wrote Mr. Corchado on the flyleaf of a copy of his book, “but after midnight comes the dawn.”Although a memoir, this book reads like a thriller. A must-read -- and quite inspiring in that all hope is not loss when speaking truth to power -- although an action that carries much risk at times.

  • Liam
    2019-03-05 06:47

    "Political decentralization also created a power vacuum. The cartels were ready to prey on the delicate fledgling institutions that were now exposed in the new democracy. Criminal files disappeared, investigators were killed and witnesses vanished, withe near total impunity for those responsible. Almost overnight, the so-called rule of law fell to Mexico's modern-day conquerors: the drug cartels." (8)"Today, the Sinaloa cartel can buy a kilo of Columbia or Peruvian cocaine for around $2,000. The kilo finds its way to the El Dorado of cocaine markets, the United States, by overwhelming weak, corrupt authorities and judicial institutions and leaving behind a path of death and destruction. In Mexico, that kilo fetches more than $10,000; when it crosses into the United States, its value triples to about $30,000 depending on the city. Once broken up for retail distribution, that same kilo sells for upward of $100,000. The drug trade creates at least half a million jobs." (44)"The PRI had every reason to quietly partner with the cartels. The leaders were pragmatists, after all, not ideologues. As long as demand existed in the north, there would be market pressure to supply. So why not negotiate with the cartels, keep the flow of commerce smooth and pocket a cut of the profits? The PRI regime was viewed as a paternal figure for Mexican society and the same held true in its dealings with criminal organizations. While the cartels would resort to violence to resolve internal disputes, few of these battles ever got too out of hand, less the PRI step in to exercise its authority. But as the PRI grew older, weaker, more divided and bankrupt, its authority on such matters began to erode." (46)"Even if at times I had felt less than welcome in the United States, I always believed I stood a chance of getting ahead on a more level playing field. Or, at least, I knew where I stood. The Mexico I confronted felt uneven, hypocritical, sad and stuck." (98)"'This is the city of death.'" (taxi driver on Juarez, 204)

  • Barbara Geffen
    2019-03-16 13:52

    I'm bothered by reviews that criticize the author for writing as a journalist. He identifies himself as such. He tells us his story is personal, so why are there complaints that he focuses on the death threats that force him to flee his beloved Mexico and his desire to know who is behind them? Geez, I'd want to know... None of that takes away from the poetry of the story, the fear of the locals who are terrorized by cartel thugs, the despair of parents whose children join the gangs for money and opportunity instead of continuing in the impoverished life a corrupt government offers them, and the hope that persists in each generation that the NEXT administration will honor its promises to its people. The author shares these feelings, as someone born into Mexican pueblo poverty, raised in the ever-changing U.S.-Mexican legal relationship of farm-worker and immigrant, on both sides of the border. As an adult, educated in the U.S., he becomes a journalist, in part to understand his own history, in both countries, where he feels he does not belong totally in either. He gains U.S. citizenship and acclaimed awards for his work. He does not willingly become a reporter of the narco traffickers and the history of the intertwined corruption in government; but he cannot avoid it by covering only the good, when evil erupts all around him. I knew nothing of the legal program to bring in Mexican farm labor during WWII and the Korean War, and the abrupt end to each at the war's end. What a terrible way to treat guest workers!!! No wonder we have so many who remained, many with legal status earned who could bring families with them (our author got here that way) and many who just didn't go home and their families joined them. With such arbitrary and ever-changing laws, who are we to judge? The book offers much of such history, woven into political and personal tales of Mexico. It was an educational experience for me, and I recommend it to others for that reason.

  • Michael
    2019-03-02 11:25

    Alfredo Corchado loves Mexico - I mean, he really loves Mexico - so there's a palpable sense of grief and nostalgia when he writes in Midnight in Mexicoabout how the land of his birth has become an infestation of corruption and savagery. Unfortunately, he also includes a story about how an anonymous threat on his life forces him into exile and reflection on how his beloved Mexico got that bad.I say that that plot - ostensibly the main plot of the book - is "unfortunate", because Midnight in Mexico loses track of all the stories it wants to tell. It wants to write about how Corchado fears for his life when a contact in the American government tells him about the threat. It wants to write about Corchado's youth in Mexico, then a land of optimism and history looking to the future (and its northern neighbor). It wants to write about Mexico's culture, its uneasy relationship with the United States, and the drug lords who hold the land hostage. Somehow, it's the matter-of-fact history of Mexico that comes out the clearest. It's certainly not the story of Corchado trying to escape the hit, because that gets quickly lost as he recounts his days as a young boy in Mexico, and then a young man traveling back and forth across the border. It's tough to feel the sense of dread and fear Corchado tries to imbue in the story when the expository flashbacks are so long and detailed. Perhaps if Corchado had written a more straightforward memoir about his experiences as a child of Mexico living in the United States, or how Mexico came to be a failed state on the doorstep of the American Empire, Midnight in Mexico would have been tighter, stronger, even scarier; but his half-hearted recounting of a cartel hit (that culminates in a pretty weak resolution) leaves a disappointing taste for a book that should have been so much better - especially when it's supposed to be what the book is all about.

  • Jen
    2019-03-19 08:24

    This book wasn't what I thought it would be--it's not a deep journalistic expose of the relationship between Mexico's drug cartels and its government. It treats the recent slaughter of so many people in a fairly tangential way, though vignettes bring it to the fore in a few places. It's more one man's own dream of Mexico, the country he left behind as a boy, that turned into a nightmare. It's a surprisingly personal story in which Corchado tries to reconcile his feelings of love and betrayal for both the US and Mexico. The brief hope in Mexico after the PRI goes out of power gives way to the reality that Mexico's institutions are rickety and undemocratic and there are no simple fixes. It weaves into the story the complicated, unequal relationship between the United States and Mexico which more often works against Mexico than for it. Recently, Bush's promises to help Calderon mattered little; the lifting of the US assault weapons ban opened the flood of weapons smuggled across the border and the US was preoccupied with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.The frame of the story is the threat against Corchado's life; it should be more compelling, but the way he flips back and forth to it takes most of the wind out of it. (He especially doesn't need to detail how he played coy with all his family about it.) It's readily apparent that covering the drug war from Mexico carries risk for him even though he is a naturalized American citizen. An appalling number of journalists have died in Mexico in recent years; he could have focused more on that. His girlfriend seems much more heroic for refusing to stop covering Juarez after it turned lawless.Even though the book is different than what I imagined it would be, I appreciate the voice he has given to the conflict in Mexico from the perspective of a person who lives between two worlds, Mexican and American.

  • Dan Downing
    2019-03-14 08:54

    Mexico has a long, proud, sad history. From los indios to the Spanish invaders to the Mexican citizens of today, Mexico has treated her sons and daughters harshly.Today she stands at what may be the threshold of a glorious future: seeds have been planted. Infrastructure has been built, jobs created, education offered and accepted. But she has one gigantic problem which has caused up to a hundred thousand deaths over the past few years. The name of it is The United States Of American. Yes, we, the Christian want-to-be nation, the proclaimers of being the leaders of the world, with our riches and our weapons and our hypocrisy, have developed an insane policy of double think which devastates our Southern neighbor.It is called our War on Drugs. We spend billions on illicit drugs, giving the thugs of Mexico the means to bribe countless officials on both side of the border, to pay hoards of killers, to import tones of drugs so that American Dealers can sell them and make a fortune. THE DEATHS OF TENS OF THOUSANDS ARE ON OUR HANDS; OUR PUNY DENIALS CANNOT NEGATE OUR MORAL RESPONSIBILITY. Nor can our immigration policies be defended except as the crassest of mercenary ploys.Few Americans will have the guts or curiosity to read this book; fewer still the motivation to do anything, even so slight a gesture as writing a lawmaker about it. It makes me ashamed for our Country.Told in human terms, around the life of a reporter with both Mexican and American ties, this story resonates with moral and political truth, as well s the violence and fear generated by brutal systemic terror.Highly Recommended.

  • Bobbi
    2019-03-10 09:34

    A great read. I got a look inside Mexico that gave me a better, more nuanced understanding of the terrible drug and violence problems that have exploded in recent years.I appreciated Corchado's intimate portrait of his native country which provides a personal narrative that runs side-by-side with his insights about the origins and operation of Mexico's drug cartels, the country's inability to squash corruption and how all the moving parts interact with the US.Like a good journalist, Corchado lets no one off the hook. He reports with equanimity. At the same time, his passion for his homeland shines through.Merged review:A great read. I got a look inside Mexico that gave me a better, more nuanced understanding of the terrible drug and violence problems that have exploded in recent years.I appreciated Corchado's intimate portrait of his native country which provides a personal narrative that runs side-by-side with his insights about the origins and operation of Mexico's drug cartels, the country's inability to squash corruption and how all the moving parts interact with the US.Like a good journalist, Corchado lets no one off the hook. He reports with equanimity. At the same time, his passion for his homeland shines through.(Note: I just posted this on the "other editions" version for Midnight in Mexico, in case you see it twice!)

  • LAPL Reads
    2019-03-11 07:49

    This book is an intriguing mix of personal memoir, Mexican drug trade reporting, and a historical overview of Mexico in the late 20th century. This book is also much more than those things too: the author, Alfredo Corchado, navigates his heartache and longing for a Mexico that no longer exists, a place where he was born and where his family decided to leave in order to find a better life in the U.S. when he was just a child. Interwoven throughout these explorations of U.S. and Mexican identities and histories, there is this alarming fact that kicks off the book: Alfredo is a news reporter for The Dallas Morning News and has been increasing his coverage of the Mexican drug cartels, and as a result, in 2007 a verifiable threat on his life has arisen. From there the narrative takes off in several alarming directions: Who exactly is making these threats? How can he successfully navigate all of the myriad personal relationships he has, with their attendant demands, on both sides of the border? How can he continue to report on the drug cartels in Mexico while trying to remain safe in the U.S.? This is a satisfying true life tale that is both exciting and meditative at alternating times.Reviewed by Eileen Y., Librarian, InfoNow