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Midnight in Mexico – Book Review

Midnight in MexicoAuthor: Alfredo Corchado

Publisher: The Penguin Press, Penguin Group, 375 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014

Copyright: 2013, ISBN: 1594204395

Cover: Keith Hayes

Summary: Reporter Alfredo Corchado, born in Mexico, returns to Mexico as a U. S. newspaper foreign correspondent covering the drug war.  An extraordinarily thought-provoking look at Mexico’s past and present with implications for its future neatly concealed between the lines.  The book also goes a long way in explaining why “illegal” immigration may be more a clash of cultures than a clash over territorial boundaries.

 

It is impossible to read MIDNIGHT IN MEXICO without thinking of Andrew Pham’s 1999 CATFISH AND MANDALA. Both, in their own way, are travelogues through cultures juxtaposed against American beliefs and values. The difference between the two exploring perspectives is glaring and you cannot help but be conscious of those differences as you read. For me as a reviewer, I was very much aware of my 1969-1970 experiences in Vietnam as I read CATFISH AND MANDALA. I was also aware of the Vietnamese refugees and immigrants I have met since. Nothing I read in the book altered my attitude toward the Vietnamese people. They are, as a people, closer to the land than someone living in cosmopolitan New York or Chicago. They were and are closer to the land than someone removed some ten years from the red-dirt of Georgia where I spent my early years. Regardless of one’s locale in America, identification and empathy are easily extended to peoples of agrarian cultures because American beliefs and values are agrarian at to their roots.

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Cellar of Horror – Book Review

CellarofHorroAuthor: Ken Englade

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Paperbacks, 175 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10010

Copyright: 1988, ISBN: 0312929293

Cover: AP/Wide World Photos, Michael Gesinger/Graphistock

Reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, December 18, 2014

Summary: The 1987 arrest, trial and conviction of serial killer Gary Heidnik. This book reads more like a newspaper article although the author does point out a few noteworthy highlights of the trial. Heidnik died by lethal injection on July 6, 1999.

 

Was Gary Heidnik insane?

A meaningless question. Anyone who kidnaps, imprisons, mutilates and murders another human being can pejoratively be called insane. The term however does nothing to explain the behavior. The real question is whether such a person really knows the impact and consequences of what they are doing. Despite the science of psychology and out reliance upon these experts to address the issue it impossible for anyone to get inside the head of another individual and determine the perspective that individual has on their behavior and actions. The only way an outsider can approach discerning the motivations behind the behavior and actions of another is to look at patterns of behavior. It is not the decisive approach, but it is the only approach we have. Juries are good at doing that. Ken Englade’s CELLAR OF HORROR provides a small window for the rest of us to make our own judgment about Gary Heidnik.

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