God's Middle Finger
Into the Lawless Heart of the Sierra Madre
By Richard Grant
(Free Press, Paperback, 9781416534402, 304pp.)
Publication Date: March 4, 2008
Twenty miles south of the Arizona-Mexico border, the rugged, beautiful Sierra Madre mountains begin their dramatic ascent. Almost 900 miles long, the range climbs to nearly 11,000 feet and boasts several canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon. The rules of law and society have never taken hold in the Sierra Madre, which is home to bandits, drug smugglers, Mormons, cave-dwelling Tarahumara Indians, opium farmers, cowboys, and other assorted outcasts. Outsiders are not welcome; drugs are the primary source of income; murder is all but a regional pastime. The Mexican army occasionally goes in to burn marijuana and opium crops -- the modern treasure of the Sierra Madre -- but otherwise the government stays away. In its stead are the drug lords, who have made it one of the biggest drug-producing areas in the world.
Fifteen years ago, journalist Richard Grant developed what he calls "an unfortunate fascination" with this lawless place. Locals warned that he would meet his death there, but he didn't believe them -- until his last trip. During his travels Grant visited a folk healer for his insomnia and was prescribed rattlesnake pills, attended bizarre religious rituals, consorted with cocaine-snorting policemen, taught English to Guarijio Indians, and dug for buried treasure. On his last visit, his reckless adventure spiraled into his own personal heart of darkness when cocaine-fueled Mexican hillbillies hunted him through the woods all night, bent on killing him for sport.
With gorgeous detail, fascinating insight, and an undercurrent of dark humor, God's Middle Finger brings to vivid life a truly unique and uncharted world.
Richard Grant is an award-winning travel writer who has published his work in Men's Journal, Esquire, and Details, among others. He is also the author of American Nomads and God's Middle Finger. Grant currently lives in Tucson, Arizona.
"There is nothing here of the 'I jumped over a puddle' aspect of modern adventure stories. As an Englishman, Grant has far too much of the mad dog in his character, and I am surprised indeed that he survived his journey. This is a thoroughly enlivening book, the rare kind that makes you want to sleep with a pistol under your pillow." -- Jim Harrison, author of Returning to Earth
"This is exactly the book you're hoping for when you pick it up: a crazy, sprawling story so well-written, you can't decide whether to keep reading or go to Mexico to see for yourself. Keep reading: You have an extraordinary book in your hands." -- Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm