Sixty Miles of Border: An American Lawman Battles Drugs on the Mexican Border

Terry Kirkpatrick, Author
Terry Kirkpatrick. Berkley, $15 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-425-24762-4
Reviewed on: 05/14/2012
Release date: 07/03/2012
Kirkpatrick’s memoir about his 25-year career as a customs agent on the Mexican border (based at Nogales, Ariz.) is ripe with potential for revealing an insider’s frustration with the drug war. Unfortunately, Kirkpatrick’s multitude of anecdotes from life on the border—drug smuggling, corrupt officers, departmental feuds—are randomly strung together like a bunch of bad bar stories. Readers learn of the importance of confidential informants and the history of some of the dominant cartels, but these few merits are buried under the book’s juvenile writing style. Kirkpatrick pulls no punches with his prejudicial views and destructive behavior: he objectifies women; drinks while working (and driving); has sex while on a surveillance mission; throws rocks across the border at Mexican kids; and makes gay jokes about his colleagues, among other egregious offenses. Kirkpatrick is an unlikable narrator, a guy who thinks anyone who disagrees with him is an “asshole” or an “idiot.” According to his depiction, all the agents are drunk, sexist, homophobic, racist, lazy, and petty. Though the topic holds potential for a meaningful, introspective memoir on the challenges of pursuing America’s drug policy, this book is not it. (July)
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