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IN-STORE EVENT: Jason De León, Soldiers and Kings

Thursday, May 2, 2024 - 7:00pm

FREE IN-STORE EVENT: Bookshop welcomes award-winning author, anthropologist, and MacArthur fellow Jason De León (The Land of Open Graves) for a conversation about his highly acclaimed new book Soldiers and Kings: Survival and Hope in the World of Human Smuggling.

De León will be in conversation with Catherine S. Ramírez, Professor and Chair, Latin American and Latino Studies at UC Santa Cruz.

This event is cosponsored by Latin American and Latino Studies at UC Santa Cruz.

"A harrowing account of the work of human smugglers in bringing aspirational immigrants to America's southern border...[and] an exemplary ethnography of central importance to any discussion of immigration policy or reform." —Kirkus, starred review

"A work of extraordinary reportage and compassion...[it] will shock you, move you, and leave you changed." —Matthew Desmond, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Evicted and Poverty, by America

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Political instability, poverty, climate change, and the insatiable appetite for cheap labor all fuel clandestine movement across borders. As those borders harden, the demand for smugglers who aid migrants across them increases every year. Yet media and politicians have always characterized smugglers—or coyotes, or guides, as they are often known by the migrants who hire their services—using tired tropes and stereotypes, as boogie men and violent warlords.

In an effort to better understand this essential yet extralegal billion dollar global industry, internationally recognized anthropologist and expert Jason De León embedded with a group of smugglers moving migrants across Mexico over the course of seven years. The result of this unprecedented access is Soldiers and Kings: the first ever in-depth, character-driven look at human smuggling. It is a heart-wrenching and intimate narrative that revolves around the life and death of one coyote, Chino, who falls in love and tries to leave smuggling behind.

In a powerful, original voice, De Leâon expertly chronicles the lives of low-level foot soldiers breaking into the smuggling game, and morally conflicted gang leaders who oversee rag-tag crews of guides and informants along the migrant trail. SOLDIERS AND KINGS is not only a ground-breaking up-close glimpse of a difficult-to-access world, it is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction.

Jason De León is professor of Anthropology and Chicana/o Studies and director of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is also executive director of the Undocumented Migration Project, a 501(c)(3) research, arts, and education collective that seeks to raise awareness about migration issues globally while also assisting families of missing migrants reunite with their loved ones. He is a 2017 MacArthur Foundation Fellow and author of the award-winning book The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail.

Catherine S. Ramírez, chair of the Latin American and Latino Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is a scholar of Latinx literature, history, visual culture, and performance, feminist and gender studies, and comparative ethnic studies. Her expertise includes immigration and assimilation, historical memory and erasure, Mexican American women’s history, zoot suits and style politics, and Latinxfuturism. She is the author of Assimilation: An Alternative History and The Woman in the Zoot Suit: Gender, Nationalism, and the Cultural Politics of Memory. She is a co-editor of Precarity and Belonging: Labor, Migration, and Noncitizenship and Public Books. And she has written for The New York TimesThe Atlantic, and The Washington Post.



Soldiers and Kings: Survival and Hope in the World of Human Smuggling By Jason De León Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593298589
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - March 19th, 2024