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Borderlands by Derek Lundy
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Borderlands by Derek Lundy
Paperback $17.95
Oct 04, 2011 | ISBN 9780307398635

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  • Oct 04, 2011 | ISBN 9780307398635

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“Get on the bike, we’re gonna have us a ride. Derek Lundy’s border meditation takes us deep inside the American obsession with security. His clear Canadian eye and clean prose makes me realize that my country shouts about safety but is frightened by life itself.”
-Charles Bowden, author of Down by the River: Drugs, Money, Murder, and Family

“Intrepid adventure traveller, daring investigative reporter and rigorous historian, Derek Lundy rode his motorcycle on “the edge” in more than one way – the borders of the United States with Mexico and Canada, yes, but he also often rode the edge of survival, against wind, rain, heat, cold, gravel, mud and homicidal logging trucks. Equally, he faced the extremes of the American frontier myth in the twenty-first century, as I have also experienced them, as represented by the Border Patrol, the Department of Homeland Security, and vigilante groups like the Minutemen. His polished prose is searingly honest about himself and what he experiences, and his story goes well beyond the conventions of “where I went and what I saw.” He takes the reader into the deeper complexity of “what it all means.” Borderlands is entertaining, enlightening and important. I hope it will be widely read, and in particular by Americans – to witness what is being done in their names at the ragged edges of their great country.”
-Neil Peart, author of Ghost Rider and Roadshow

“The two wheels of Lundy’s bike trace an illuminating path through space and time. A great ride and a great read, Borderlands is a profound exploration of the rough ground where rival histories, ethnicities, and mythologies jostle for their place in the sun.”
-Ronald Wright, author of A Short History of Progress and What Is America?

“[A] complex and absorbing portrait of the anxious, post-9/11 U.S.A. . . .  supremely enjoyable — an artful story, a provocative rumination . . . Lundy [is] erudite, reasonable and amusingly self-deprecating [and] provides succinct historical overviews throughout, reminding us of what the here-and-now is founded on.”
-Vancouver Sun
 “The book is part travelogue and part lesson on the continent’s history. But mostly, it’s a fascinating look at U.S. national security post–9/11 and the human consequences. . . . Besides covering the political, the book gets personal, detailing Lundy’s struggles with his motorbike, painful injuries, and reflections on his own mortality. The joy of the ride runs through it all.”
-The Georgia Straight
“Superbly rendered story. . . . Lundy’s analysis, and meditation on, what it’s like for Canada and Mexico to share a border with the world’s superpower in a post-9/11 world is both convincing and alarming. . . . Borderlands is tough to pigeonhole. It’s part travelogue, part history, part analysis of U.S.-Canada relations and part reflection on the joys and pains of biking. Regardless, it’s all good.”
-Winnipeg Free Press
“With interesting historical facts that everyone can probably stand to brush up on and keen insight into the contemporary political climate, Borderlands is a valuable contribution to North American studies. But above all it is a good read, peppered with Lundy’s personal travails as the motorcycle ride progresses and he meets the borders’ quirky inhabitants.”
-Gulf Islands Driftwood

Open and honest about his failings as a rider, Lundy employs a wry sense of humour that keeps the pages turning as the miles fly by. . . . Borderlands is well-balanced, both in terms of interview subjects and the exposure given to the northern and southern U.S. borders. . . . While the book is primarily a travelogue commenting on America’s growing security obsession, in the borderlands between politics and memoir a fine history lesson exists, and Lundy is an excellent teacher.”
-Quill & Quire (starred review)


BC Book Prize’s Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize FINALIST 2011

Author Essay

On April 1, 2008, the Department of Homeland Security announced that any environmental law or regulation that would prevent, or slow down, the construction of the new fence along the entire southern border would be waived. “Criminal activity at the border does not stop for endless debate or protracted litigation,” said then-Homeland Security head, Michael Chertoff. The department had used its waiver powers (given to it under the Real ID Act of 2005) three times before to allow new fencing near San Diego, and in two other border areas of Arizona. But the April 1st waiver was massive; it applied to thirty-six federal laws.

The Homeland Security secretary has powers that not even the president can exercise, even during a national or military crisis. And the department’s power affects everyone who lives in the third country of the borderlands. In that zone of conflict and confusion, all constitutional and legal bets are off.

It’s not surprising that the most concerted objections to the new fence come from the “Valley,” as the northern bank of the River from the Gulf to Rio Grande City 150 miles upstream is called. Some ranches and farms straddle the Rio Grande, and tens of thousands of people cross back and forth every day to work, to go to school and to shop. For Homeland Security, anything is fair game in achieving its goal, from waiving laws and regulations to expropriating private land. For the people of the Valley, the fence is a Berlin Wall that will divide a unique Tex-Mex society that exists on both sides of a narrow river.

In a March 2008 editorial, the New York Times paraphrased Winston Churchill, who once upon a time warned about another barrier on another continent: “From San Diego on the Pacific to Brownsville on the Rio Grande, a steel curtain is descending across the continent.”

Table Of Contents

1 A Holy Altar
2 A Larger Empire
3 The Third Country
4 God’s Right to Come
5 History Is What Hurts
6 Line in the Sand
7 Riding the Dirt
8 A Well Regulated Militia . . .
9 The Third Nation
10 Riding to the Sea
11 A Portal for Terror
12 Quoddy Head
13 Borderlands Nation
14 The Paranoid Style
15 Riding to Niagara
16 Riding the 49th
17 A Strange Land

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