Luis Alberto Urrea is a journalist who did extensive research on a tragic incident for his book The Devil's Highway. Twenty-six men (known as the Wellstone 26) left Mexico for the United States, but tragically only twelve of them survived. Those who lost their lives are known as the Yuma 14. This book is the story of those twenty-six men as well commentary on how border crossings between Mexico and the United States work--or do not work.
Chapter one of this book establishes the historical context of a place known as The Devil's Highway. The first recorded deaths on this barren Arizona border road happened in 1541, and it has been a place of much death and even demonic activity for hundreds of years. It became known as “the most terrible place in the world.”
Urrea starts his telling of the Yuma 14 story by introducing five of the men who survived as they are discovered by an American border patrol agent known as Mike F. As they tell him about the others who were with them and are still somewhere in the desert (though the men are delirious and dehydrated, so their stories are conflicting), Mike F. wonders if this is going to be the "apocalypse" he has long feared.
In this chapter, we learn the short ending of the story: border patrol agents find seven men who are still alive and fourteen others who are are dead. This chapter sets the tone for the rest of the story, as Urrea makes it clear that this was a preventable tragedy and there is plenty of blame to pass around for this incident. The rest of the book will introduce readers to each of the twenty-six men and retrace their journey from Mexico to The Devil's Highway.