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Publisher's Summary

The definitive account of the mass disappearance of 43 Mexican students and the government that tried to cover it up

On September 26, 2014, 43 male students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers' College went missing in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico. According to official reports, the students commandeered several buses to travel to Mexico City to commemorate the anniversary of the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre. During the journey, local police intercepted the students and a confrontation ensued. By the morning, they had disappeared without a trace.

Hernández reconstructs almost minute-by-minute the events of those nights in late September 2014, giving us what is surely the most complete picture available. Her sources are unparalleled, since she has secured access to internal government documents that have not been made public and to video surveillance footage the government has tried to hide and destroy. Hernández demolishes the Mexican state's official version, which the Peña Nieto government cynically dubbed the "historic truth." State officials at all levels, from police and prosecutors to the upper echelons of the PRI administration, conspired to put together a fake case, concealing or manipulating evidence, and arresting and torturing dozens of "suspects" who then obliged with full "confessions" that matched the official lie.

In the wake of the students' disappearances, protestors in Mexico took up the slogan "Fue el estado" - "It was the state." Hernández's book is the one that gives most precision and credibility to the claim. By following the role of the various Mexican state agencies through the events in such remarkable detail, she allows us to see exactly which parts of the state are responsible for which component of this monumental crime.

©2017 Vintage Espanol; Copyright 2018 by John Washington, Translation; Copyright 2018 by John Washington, Introduction (P)2018 Tantor

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    3 out of 5 stars

Translation’s narration is unbearable

It is as if Alexa or Siri is reading a book to you. So monotonous and empty. I had to turn it off and stop listening. Going to buy the Spanish version instead. Wish I could get a refund.

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Needs editing

This is a book about a violent incident that made the headlines a few years ago, and I was amazed by the complexity of the real story. However, getting through the book was a grueling experience. There is no clear structure; it feels like the journalist just read the notes she took during her investigation. And there's a tsunami of tedious details, like police report numbers, surveillance camera serial numbers, endless list of names, etc. There are many dead ends that are needlessly explored in details, and way too many protagonists to keep track of. The journalist also lets her political views influence her reporting, and this is unfortunate because it minimizes the role played by the victims in their own tragic end, which strips the story of its nuances and leaves us with a black and white version of a really complex chain of events that can shed light on many aspects of life in Mexico. This is the kind of story that would make a terrific documentary series on Netflix, but in its current form it's really challenging to get through.

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Very detailed account of coverup

The story is interesting with very detailed account of coverup, too detailed to the point that I was get bore listening to the entire book.

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Factually Inaccurate.

The heavy agitator tone of the book undermines the message. Presenting many disputed matters as fact and abusing adjectives. Pejoratives like paramilitary and titles such as innocent civilian are used without defining or proving them. Digressions are common, and guilty by association logic is used. Facts, when told, are sensationalized and occasionally what is presented as fact is demonstratively false. A perfect example: The author cited tanks and soldiers in the streets as "government's consistent answers to poverty and addiction." However, Mexico doesn't have tanks and their army is tasked with fighting cartels. In the US, Federal troops aren't allowed to deploy domestically and the counter-riots by National Guard forces don't involve tanks and aren't anywhere near common enough to be called "consistent answers to poverty." Even if you agree what the author is arguing, the book itself is garbage. I'd bet the author is/was involved in something dirty.