ISBN 1416534407 - I'm not at all sure what I was expecting when I picked up a copy of this book, but I'm absolutely positive that it wasn't what I got! It is weird that this book, which might reasonably be taken as a warning about some of the dangers of traveling in some areas of Mexico, is marked as a "Travel" book. If anything, it's more of a "Don't Travel!" book.
Author Richard Grant, with a romanticized Wild West opinion of the Sierra Madre, disregards all sorts of advice from all sorts of people and heads into the most lawless area of Mexico, looking for... adventure? Maybe proof that everyone who warned him was wrong? Or that they were right? Using the names of friends and acquaintances to introduce himself to people who are, traditionally, wary of strangers, Grant finds a beautiful, wild and colorful land that hides a darker and far scarier side from outsiders. His travels are fascinating, sad, frightening and even funny.
Reading this with no personal background in Mexico, I found it to be over the top and unlikely. Then I talked to friends who know the country, having lived there. They all agree that the book is realistic, which surprised me. At the same time, they made sure to point out that the author clearly set out to find what he found. Heading into the lands owned by violent and dangerous drug growers and cartels, it's hardly a surprise that Grant found violent and dangerous people in a violent and dangerous place. Grant compares the Sierra Madre to the Wild West, probably a very good comparison. Romanticized with time and distance, the Wild West was a deadly place to be for a lot of people. I don't know that I'd let this book keep me from visiting Mexico, although I'd probably stay out of the Sierra Madre. True or not, hyperbole or accurate, the book is well written and an interesting read. Some of the rougher language will offend some readers and the rather abrupt ending is a minor disappointment but God's Middle Finger is still one of the best books I've read lately.
Interesting book about the Sierra Madre. Laugh out loud funny at times.