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The Money Myth
Coming of Age in the Other America
Timberline, U.S.A.
New Threats to Freedom
Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds
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Philosophy and Real Politics
Teaching Minds
The Struggle for America's Promise

Border OdysseyBorder Odyssey

Travels along the U.S./Mexico Divide

Charles D. Thompson, Jr.

Narrated by Gary Roelofs

Available from Audible

Book published by University of Texas Press

Border Odyssey takes us on a drive toward understanding the U.S./Mexico divide: all 1,969 miles—from Boca Chica to Tijuana—pressing on with the useful fiction of a map.

Along the journey, five centuries of cultural history (indigenous, French, Spanish, Mexican, African American, colonist, and U.S.), wars, and legislation unfold. And through observation, conversation, and meditation, Border Odyssey scopes the stories of the people and towns on both sides.

Among the terrain traversed: walls and more walls, unexpected roadblocks and patrol officers; a golf course (you could drive a ball across the border); a Civil War battlefield (you could camp there); the southernmost plantation in the United States; a hand-drawn ferry, a road-runner tracked desert, and a breathtaking national park; barbed wire, bridges, and a trucking-trade thoroughfare; ghosts with guns; obscured, unmarked, and unpaved roads; a Catholic priest and his dogs, artwork, icons, and political cartoons; a sheriff and a chain-smoking mayor; a Tex-Mex eatery empty of customers and a B&B shuttering its doors; murder-laden newspaper headlines at breakfast; the kindness of the border-crossing underground; and too many elderly, impoverished, ex-U.S. farmworkers, braceros, lined up to have Thompson take their photograph.

Charles D. Thompson, Jr. is Professor of the Practice of Cultural Anthropology and Documentary Studies at Duke University. He is author or editor of six books. Prior to Border Odyssey: Traveling the Valley of the Shadow of Death, he wrote Spirits of Just Men: Mountaineers, Liquor Bosses, and Lawmen in the Moonshine Capital of the World. He is also editor, with Melinda Wiggins, of The Human Cost of Food: Farmworker Lives, Labor, and Advocacy.


“A potent cri de coeur for a more compassionate, sane and humane border policy.”

—Starred review in Kirkus

“Thompson sought a firsthand look at how modern U.S. border policy has affected the people in the region, from migrant workers to indigenous people to border patrol agents to residents of economically stagnant towns just north of the boundary. The result is a travel memoir with a conscience, an extension of Thompson’s ongoing work to humanize the hotly debated region.”

The News & Observer

“Thompson uses his travels to share his passion for the welfare of hard-working, good people, and to persuade his readers that such people have been trapped and exploited by a flawed immigration system.”

Winston-Salem Journal

“Does Border Odyssey bring us any closer to dissolving entrenched divisions and ingrained attitudes about the border? In presenting the struggles and strife of this place and its people with honesty and hope, Thompson shows the possibility and potential of such a beautiful dream.”

The Texas Observer

“We need these stories that bring us together, the travel that makes us realize that the only borders that really exist between us are the ones that come of ignorance and fear.”

—Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies and A Wedding in Haiti

“Riveting. With spectacular imagery, intimacy, and credibility, Thompson dismantles the stereotypes. Border Odyssey is destined to become an international classic in border/frontera literature because it reveals person-by-person, town-by-town the anti-human rights juggernaut as a human-invented catastrophe that we do have the power to clean up.”

—Paul Ortiz, author of Emancipation Betrayed

“Breathes life into contemporary debates on immigration that often flatten the human implications of national policy by letting us hear from those whose voices may not otherwise be heard, and so allowing us to better understand this complex contact zone that cannot be contained by a wall of any size.”

—Louis G. Mendoza, author of A Journey Around Our America

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University Press Audiobooks