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The Beast

The Beast Cover

The Beast

Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail

By Oscar Martinez; Francisco Goldman (Introduction by); Daniela Maria Ugaz (Translator)

Verso, Paperback, 9781781682975, 275pp.

Publication Date: June 3, 2014

One day a few years ago, 300 migrants were kidnapped betweenthe remote desert towns of Altar, Mexico, and Sasabe, Arizona. A local priest got120 released, many with broken anklesand other marks of abuse, but the restvanished. Oscar Martinez, a youngwriter from El Salvador, was in Altarsoon after the abduction, and his accountof the migrant disappearances is onlyone of the harrowing stories he garneredfrom two years spent traveling up anddown the migrant trail from CentralAmerica and across the US border. Morethan a quarter of a million CentralAmericans make this increasinglydangerous journey each year, and eachyear as many as 20,000 of them arekidnapped.
Martinez writes in powerful, unforgettable prose about clinging tothe tops of freight trains; finding respite, work and hardship in shelters andbrothels; and riding shotgun with theborder patrol. Illustrated with stunningfull-color photographs, The Beast is thefirst book to shed light on the harsh newreality of the migrant trail in the age ofthe narcotraficantes.

About the Author
Oscar Martinez writes for, the first online newspaper in Latin America. The original edition of his book Los migrantes que no importan was published in 2010 by Icaria and El Faro and a second edition by Mexico s sur+ Ediciones in 2012. Martinez is currently writing chronicles and articles for El Faro s project, Sala Negra, investigating gang violence in Latin America. In 2008, Martinez won the Fernando Benitez National Journalism Prize in Mexico, and in 2009, he was awarded the Human Rights Prize at the Jose Simeon Canas Central American University in El Salvador. From the Hardcover edition."

Praise For The Beast

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Economist & The Financial Times

“Harrowing….The graceful, incisive writing lifts “The Beast” from being merely an impressive feat of reportage into the realm of literature. Mr. Martínez has produced something that is an honorable successor to enduring works like George Orwell’s “The Road to Wigan Pier” or Jacob Riis’s “How the Other Half Lives.”—New York Times

“The most extraordinary (and harrowing) book I read this year. Beautiful and searing and impossible to put down.”–Junot Díaz

“The world that Oscar Martínez, a Salvadoran journalist, set out to report on five years ago is so violent, depraved and hellish, you can hardly believe he survived to tell the tale... rugged prose, beautifully translated.” –The Economist

“Martínez is a powerful storyteller and his approach to investigative journalism is closer
to anthropological immersion: He walks with migrants through bloody forests, eats with them at
spartan shelters, and rides with them atop speeding trains.” –Columbia Journalism Review

“The Beast, like so many great books, lands on you with a revelatory frisson, the arrival of a
story we didn’t know we were waiting to hear.” –Los Angeles Review of Books

“… Martínez’s debut is the hard-won result of immersive journalism."—Kirkus 

"This searing account of the hardships suffered by Central American migrants headed through Mexico to the United States comes from true shoe-leather reporting." —Publisher's Weekly

“To understand the dramatic realities faced by the migrants who flee northwards to find work in the United States, Óscar Martínez literally jumped trains and dodged killers. He deserves praise not only for his efforts, and for what he writes about, but because he writes so very well.”
—Jon Lee Anderson, staff reporter for the New Yorker

“A heartbreaking book about the world’s most invisible people. A revelatory work of love and hair-raising courage.”  —Alma Guillermoprieto, Latin America correspondent for the New York Review of Books, author of Dancing with Cuba

“Óscar Martínez is a journalist of uncommon bravery and a writer of prodigious talent. The Beast is a powerful, necessary book, one of the finest pieces of journalism to emerge from Latin America in years.” —Daniel Alarcón, author of At Night We Walk in Circles