The Coyote’s Bicycle: The Untold Story of Seven Thousand Bicycles and the Rise of a Borderland Empire

Kimball Taylor. Tin House (PGW, dist.), $26.95 (400p) ISBN 978-1-941040-20-1
Journalist Taylor (Return by Water) deftly guides readers over la frontera and back again, many times, to unravel the story behind the thousands of bikes of all shapes and sizes found abandoned over the years along the Mexican-U.S. border. The book’s sympathetic narrative traces the rise of El Indio, a young Mexican, to the top of a prosperous but dangerous business that smuggles migrants into the U.S. He leaves his village in Oaxaca as a teenager with his sight set on the U.S. In Tijuana, he hits upon a wildly successful and quite lucrative mode of sneaking people across the heavily enforced border: traveling via bicycle, streaking down the perilous canyons between the wall and a brighter future. Kimball splices El Indio’s epic (recreated from secondary sources) into an as-it-happened investigation into the life cycles of the bicycles he used. Shrewd ranchers, state environmentalists, a seasoned newspaper reporter, an obsessed documentary photographer, an activist, a sleazy film exec, a desperate actor, military contractors, and a bathroom attendant turned makeshift research assistant all come to life on the page. Kimball assembles these voices to report on the social, economic, and political factors that shape and reshape the border, and to vivify the big paradoxes at the center of a place that’s as complex as it is enchanting. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/23/2015
Release date: 02/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 408 pages - 978-1-941040-62-1
Open Ebook - 380 pages - 978-1-941040-21-8
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