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In the Shadow of Saint Death

The Gulf Cartel and the Price of America's Drug War in Mexico

Michael Deibert

With the war between the Mexican state and the drug traffickers operating within its borders having claimed over 70,000 lives since 2006, noted journalist and author Michael Deibert zeroes in on the story of the notorious Gulf Cartel, their deadly war with their former allies Los Zetas, the cartel's connections in Mexican politics and what its trajectory means for Mexico’s--and America’s--future.

Punctuated by the disappearance of busloads of full of people from Mexican highways, heavy-weapon firefights in once-picturesque colonial towns and the discovery of mass graves, nowhere has the violence of Mexico’s drug war been more intense than directly across the border from East Texas, the scene of a scorched-earth war between two of Mexico’s largest drug trafficking organizations: The Gulf Cartel, a criminal body with roots stretching back to Prohibition, and Los Zetas, a group famous for their savagery and largely made up of deserters form Mexico's armed forces. From the valleys and sierras of rural Tamaulipas and Nuevo León to the economic hub of Monterrey, the violence rivals anything seen in the more well-known narco war in Ciudad Juárez, 830 miles to the west.

Combining dozens of interviews that the author has conducted over the last six years in Mexico and other countries in the region along with a vast reserve of secondary source material,
In the Shadow of Saint Death gives U.S. readers the story of the war being waged along our border in the voices of the cartel hitmen, law enforcement officials, politicians, shopkeepers, migrants and children living inside of it year-round. Through their stories, the book will pose provocative questions about the direction and consequence of U.S. drug policy and the militarized approach to combating the narcotics trade on both sides of the border.
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Globe Pequot Press / Lyons Press
Pages: 336Size: 5 3/4 x 8 3/4
978-1-4930-0971-8 • Paperback • November 2015 • $16.95 • (£10.95)
Michael Deibert is the author of the Democratic Republic of Congo: Between Hope and Despair. His first book, Notes from the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti, was praised by the Miami Herald as a powerfully documented exposé and by the San Antonio Express-News as a compelling mix of reportage, memoir and social criticism, and has since become required reading for diplomats and others seeking to understand that country's complex 1994-2004 era.

Michael’s writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, the Miami Herald, Le Monde diplomatique, Folha de São Paulo, the World Policy Journal, and the Huffington Post, among other venues. He has been a featured commentator on international affairs on the BBC, Al Jazeera, Channel 4, National Public Radio, WNYC New York Public Radio and KPFK Pacifica Radio. In 2012, he was awarded a grant from the International Peace Research Association, and in 2008 he was selected as a finalist for the Kurt Schork Award in International Journalism, sponsored by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, both in recognition of his work in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He lives in Miami Beach, Florida.

“Michael Deibert has to be one of the most courageous journalists working today. He goes to the hardest places—the favelas of Rio, the shantytowns of Port-au-Prince, the killing grounds of central Africa—and comes out with stories no one else gets. Now, with In the Shadow of Saint Death, he turns his unflinching eye on Mexico to explore the horrific price that country has paid for the United States’ failed ‘war on drugs.’ This extraordinary book cuts through the politics and propaganda, straight to the heart of the matter—the lives lost, the profits reaped, and the vast systems on both sides of the border that keep the whole bloody business going.”—Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, winner of the National Book Critics’ Circle Award and finalist for the National Book Award

Praise for Michael Deibert's previous work:

Notes From the Last Testament: The Struggle for Haiti

"A compelling mix of reportage, memoir, social criticism...Deibert masterfully recounts...wild swings in the republic's political compass." -- The San Antonio Express-News

"A powerfully documented exposé." -- The Miami Herald

The Democratic Republic of Congo: Between Hope and Despair

"In this remarkable tour de force of reporting, analysis, historical inquiry, and personal experience, Michael Deibert delivers the story of Congo's bloody recent history in unflinching, often bitingly acerbic prose, setting forth in the clearest terms the causes, perpetrators, and disastrous effects of the seemingly endless Congo wars." -Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, winner of the National Book Critics' Circle Award and finalist for National Book Award

"A valuable, angry account of Congo's difficulties" - The Guardian

"Mandatory reading for anyone interested in building lasting peace in the heart of Africa." - The Institute of Development Studies 

"A comprehensive first-rate account of the tragedy of Congo...Riveting and brutally honest." - The Free Africa Foundation

[Setting] -
Northeastern Mexico; Brownsville, Texas