Peter Eichstaedt. Lawrence Hill (IPG, dist.), $26.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-61374-836-7

Journalist Eichstaedt (Above the Din of War) heads to the southern borderlands to explore the ties binding Mexico and the United States and the barriers keeping them apart. By talking with ranchers, immigrants, border agents, and others on both sides of the line, he delves into the complicated issues of immigration and enforcement, made more volatile by the maelstrom of drug violence engulfing much of northern Mexico. He finds “a deplorable lack of interaction, unfortunately fueled by fear and ignorance.” This distrust came to a head in the fight over Arizona’s SB 1070, which dramatically expanded local police forces’ mandate to detain undocumented individuals. Eichstaedt reports coming across a young man near death in the Arizona desert, giving him food and water, and driving him to the highway to be picked up by the border patrol—actions now illegal in the state. The author’s vignettes of his interactions with a diverse cast of characters are insightful and engrossing, yet despite his fieldwork on the border and over 20 years living in New Mexico, he seems to have never mastered Spanish, and the frequent misuse and misspelling of Spanish words, phrases, and names distracts from an otherwise powerful book. 40 color photos. Agent: Geri Thoma, Markson Thoma Literary Agency. (May)