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Fatal Descent
By Beth Groundwater. Midnight Ink. 279 pp. $14.99.
An offseason river excursion on the Colorado River through Utah’s Canyonlands turns ugly when one of the rafters turns up dead, possibly the victim of a grizzly bear—but more likely at the hand of a fellow vacationer. Fear, suspicion, and attitude aplenty challenge river guides Mandy and Rob, who must bring their clients safely home although the odds—both natural and human-fueled—are against them. []

Fight to Save Juarez, The: Life in the Heart of Mexico's Drug War
By Ricardo C. Ainslie. University of Texas Press. 282 pp. Index. $25.00.
A journalist blends personal experience with dozens of interviews in this chronicle of a tipping point of sorts during 2008-2010, when Juarez mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz ceded police power to the Mexican army and federal law enforcement in a desperate attempt to stem the tide of violence in the border city. As groaning shelves of recent books attest, there is no dearth of attention being paid to the what and why of open warfare in northern Mexico. Ainslie nonetheless provides a new perspective with his perceptive questioning of government officials, journalists, community organizers, cartel foot soldiers, and ordinary citizens. The story is grim and the end is far from sight, but Ainslie discerns glimmers of hope in government push-back and grass-roots activism emerging through the fog of corruption and violence that grips the beleaguered community. []
You’re the mayor of a city with a million people and a drug cartel just declared war on its rival, making your streets the battleground. Thousands of people will die. Fiction? No, it really happened in Cuidad Juarez, and the story of the battles and politics make riveting reading as Ricardo Ainslie takes us behind the scenes with major players. With deep research and at grave personal risk, he interviews the mayor, a mafioso’s up-from-poverty mistress, an unarmed community activist, various police leaders, and a newspaperman trapped in the crossfire. And there are heroes, as when a grieving mother bravely confronted Mexico’s president to ask for justice for her son. Ainslie’s account is spellbinding in its details and horror. []

From the Republic of the Rio Grande: A Personal History of the Place and the People
By Beatriz De la Garza. University of Texas Press. 225 pp. Index. $45.00.

Relying on both archival documents and family papers, Beatriz de la Garza weaves a splendidly personal history of the short-lived Republic of the Rio Grande (1838-1840). Its events and culture influenced Southwest history.
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