Cortez Essay Format

From Publishers Weekly:
This eye-opening collection of essays details struggles of Mexican and American citizens affected by drug cartels along the Mexican-American border. Editors Cortez and Troncoso shift between the journalistic and the personal....Oscillating between gruesome and hopeful, the collection "was born of a vision to bear witness to how this violence has shattered life on the border," yet is imbued with optimism....Indeed, these essayists posit that widespread hope for the region begins with the involvement of the individual: "This should be our struggle." (4-15-13)

From Kirkus Reviews:
What has been lost is not a political boundary line between the United States and Mexico, but a 60-mile-wide cultural area above and below that the line; the issues raised by the voices here reflect how and why that border has become a zone of fear, violence and bloody murder....Nightly shootings, kidnappings, robberies and the discovery of mass graves--all these and more have put an end to a once-thriving tourist industry and a rich cultural exchange between those living on either side of the boundary. Where there were once bridges, there are now high walls. (3-20-13)

McAllen Monitor:
Two of the more impactful essays were by the editors themselves. Sarah Cortez, a former law-enforcement officer, powerfully proclaims herself part of a group of individuals 'who stand against the wholesale execution of decent human beings by thugs for illegal gain, sanctioned by a government too weak or too dirty to act.' Sergio Troncoso closes the collection with a poignant sentiment: 'It was a better life than what we have today, and we understand that fact mostly in retrospect, as we often do, when we lose what we value before we had a chance to appreciate what it meant.'

San Antonio-Express News:
"Exceptionally beautiful and poignant writing….This book is essential reading for anyone who cares deeply about the U.S.-Mexico border and the future relations of our two countries."

Literal Magazine: Latin American Voices:
“Our Lost Border: Essays on Life Amid the Narco-Violence, a treasure trove of one dozen personal essays, deserves to be celebrated, read, and discussed in every community in North America.”

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With a foreword by renowned novelist Rolando Hinojosa and comprised of personal essays about the impact of drug violence on life and culture along the U.S.-Mexico border, the anthology combines writings by residents of both countries. Mexican authors Liliana Blum, Lolita Bosch, Diego Osorno and Maria Socorro Tabuenca write riveting, first-hand accounts about the clashes between the drug cartels and citizens' attempts to resist the criminals. American authors focus on how the corruption and bloodshed have affected the bi-national and bi-cultural existence of families and individuals. Celestino Fernandez and Jessie K. Finch write about the violence's effect on musicians, and Maria Cristina Cigarroa shares her poignant memories of life in her grandparents' home now abandoned in Nuevo Laredo. 

In their introduction, editors Sarah Cortez and Sergio Troncoso write that this anthology was "born of a vision to bear witness to how this violence has shattered life on the border, to remember the past, but also to point to the possibilities of a better future." The personal essays in this collection humanize the news stories and are a must-read for anyone interested in how this fragile way of life between two cultures, languages and countries has been undermined by the drug trade and the crime that accompanies it, with ramifications far beyond the border region.

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