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The Story of Vicente, Who Murdered His Mother, His Father, and His Sister: Life and Death in Juárez

“This is a masterpiece of reportage from the murder capital of the world.” – Ed Vulliamy, writer for the Guardian and Observer
The intimate story of a teenager’s murder of his family, from award-winning Mexican journalist.

In Ciudad Juárez, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, sixteen-year-old Vicente and two of his high school friends murdered his mother, his father, and his little sister in cold blood. Through a Truman Capote–like reconstruction of this seemingly incomprehensible triple murder, Sandra Rodríguez Nieto paints a haunting and unforgettable portrait of one of the most violent cities on Earth. This in-depth and harrowing investigation into the thought processes of three boys leads the reader on an exploration of the city of Juárez, as well as the drug cartels that have waged war on its streets, in a bold attempt to explain the inexplicable.

Ideally qualified for telling this story, Sandra Rodríguez Nieto was an investigative reporter for the daily newspaper El Diario de Juárez for nearly a decade. Despite tremendous danger and the assassination of one of her closest colleagues, she persisted. She didn’t want the story of her city told solely by foreign reporters, because, in her words, “I know what is underneath the violence.” This book traces the rise of a national culture of murder and bloody retribution, and is a testament to the extraordinary bravery of its author. Among other things, The Story of Vicente is an account of how poverty, political corruption, failing government institutions and US meddling combined to create an explosion of violence in Juárez.


  • “As crime-beat reporter for the local paper (a job that cost her closest colleague his life), Sandra Rodríguez lives and narrates the brutalization of her city, Ciudad Juárez, at a range so close and raw it is painful to read. Yet this book—on intimate terms with Mexico’s narco-carnage, and from under its skin—draws us irretrievably into an abyss we need to know; this is the masterpiece of reportage from the murder capital of the world.”
  • “Frontline performs a fantastic service of giving voice to journalists who are reporting what many are afraid to. Sandra Rodríguez is one of many who does this. We need to get out there what happens when governments fail to deal with the deep corruption of both banking and narco trafficking.”
  • “Sandra Rodríguez is a reporter the corrupt want to keep at a distance. Untiring, exhaustive, intelligent. This is the only kind of reporter who could turn a case like that of Vicente, a child-murderer, into a story about the world of the mafia and the impunity of violence that reigns in Ciudad Juárez and in Mexico. If you want to understand Juárez, you have to read Sandra.”
  • “Sandra Rodríguez Nieto has got some guts. For more than a decade, she has reported from one of the world’s most dangerous cities to be a journalist—Ciudad Juárez. And in The Story of Vicente she paints a shattering portrait of that boomtown’s deadly violence and how it ruined the life of an ordinary boy.”
  • “Her book, like no other recent book written about Juárez, adds layers of understanding that make the reader appreciate the complexities of the problem, moving away from facile explanations and solutions advanced by government officials on both sides of the border.”
  • “Rodríguez paints a dismal portrait of a border city in distress. It’s a necessary portrait that government officials and other promoters of Juárez might prefer we not view or ponder.”


  • Decade of the Dead

    Panteón Municipal La Chaveña, Ciudad Juárez. Photo by Molly Molloy.

    On October 31, El Diario de Juárez said the municipal cemeteries were dying. On the Friday before Dia de los Muertos, I walked in the oldest cemetery — La Chaveña. It’s 179 years old. More than 75,000 people in the Paso del Norte have come to rest here. Graves are chiseled into hard ground in the western hills of Juárez and only cactus, ocotillo and bits of spiky brown grass adorn the stones. Someone planted a palo verde sapling in a cement-lined water holder on a newer grave. This tree grows in the driest land of the Chihuahuan desert.

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  • Women in Translation: A Celebratory Reading List!

    August is Women in Translation Month! Publishers and booksellers are backing a campaign started by women translators to celebrate the work of the few women writers who make it into English translation—depressing figures show that only around a quarter of English translations are female-authored books.

    The campaign originally started as an effort to highlight translated fiction, but Verso's #WITMonth reading list celebrates our publications by women who are leading thinkers and writers in non-fiction fields, ranging from journalism in Turkey and Mexico, to psychoanalysis, feminism, political theory and literary and film studies!

    (Anabel Hernández, awarded the 2012 Golden Pen of Freedom for her courageous investigative journalism about Mexico's drug cartels and corruption.)

    Samuel Beckett: Anatomy of a Literary Revolution by Pascale Casanova. Translated by Gregory Elliott 

    In a radical new reading of Samuel Beckett, Pascale Casanova argues that Beckett's reputation rests on a pervasive misreading of his oeuvre, which neglects entirely the literary revolution he instigated. Reintroducing the historical into the heart of this body of work, Casanova provides an arresting portrait of Beckett as radically subversive—doing for writing what Kandinsky did for art—and in the process presents the key to some of the most profound enigmas of Beckett's writing. 

    Discovery of the World: A Political Awakening in the Shadow of Mussolini by Luciana Castellina. Translated by Patrick Camiller

    Luciana Castellina is one of Italy's most prominent left intellectuals and a cofounder of the newspaper il manifesto. In this coming-of-age memoir, based on her diaries, she recounts her political awakening as a teenage girl in Fascist Italy—where she used to play tennis with Mussolini's daughter—and the subsequent downfall of the regime. Discovery of the World is about war, anti-Semitism, anti-fascism, resistance, the belief in social justice, the craving for experience, travel, political rallies, cinema, French intellectuals and FIAT workers, international diplomacy and friendship. All this is built on an intricate web made of reason and affection, of rational questioning and ironic self-narration as well as of profound nostalgia, disappointment and discovery.

    My Grandmother: An Armenian-Turkish Memoir by Fethiye Cetin. Translated by Maureen Freely

    A passionate memoir of the author’s discovery of her grandmother’s true identity. Growing up in the small town of Maden in Turkey, Fethiye Çetin knew her grandmother as a happy and respected Muslim housewife called Seher. Only decades later did she discover the truth. Her grandmother’s name was not Seher but Heranus. She was born a Christian Armenian. Most of the men in her village had been slaughtered in 1915. A Turkish gendarme had stolen her from her mother and adopted her. Çetin’s family history tied her directly to the terrible origins of modern Turkey and the organized denial of its Ottoman past as the shared home of many faiths and ways of life. A deeply affecting memoir, My Grandmother is also a step towards another kind of Turkey, one that is finally at peace with its past.

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  • 40% off every title on our Latin America Reading List

    To celebrate the release of My First Life, the story of Hugo Chávez’s early years told in his own words, we present a reading list of titles on Latin America. From a tour of Latin American architecture to a graphic biography of Che Guevara to writings from Toussaint L’Ouverture, the leader of the Haitian Revolution, to the definitive history of the drug cartels, we have plenty to help you brush up on Latin American history and contemporary politics as we head into the new school year!

    Click here to activate the 40% off discount!


    The sale will last until Monday, August 29th at midnight EST and includes free bundled ebooks where available and free shipping worldwide!

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