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Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here: The United States, Central America, and the Making of a Crisis (Hardcover)

Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here: The United States, Central America, and the Making of a Crisis By Jonathan Blitzer Cover Image
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A National Bestseller • Named a Best Book of 2024 (So Far) by New York Times

“What an incredibly thorough documentation of the causes of the immigration crisis, the discussions that have been going on through multiple administrations.” —Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here is sure to take its place as one of the definitive accounts of the U.S. and Central American immigration puzzle. . . . Hopefully, those with the power to change things will listen.
Manuel Roig-Franzia, Washington Post

An epic, heartbreaking, and deeply reported history of the disastrous humanitarian crisis at the southern border told through the lives of the migrants forced to risk everything and the policymakers who determine their fate, by New Yorker staff writer Jonathan Blitzer

Everyone who makes the journey faces an impossible choice. Hundreds of thousands of people who arrive every year at the US-Mexico border travel far from their homes. An overwhelming share of them come from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, although many migrants come from farther away. Some are fleeing persecution, others crime or hunger. Very often it will not be their first attempt to cross. They may have already been deported from the United States, but it remains their only hope for safety and prosperity. Their homes have become uninhabitable. They will take their chances.

This vast and unremitting crisis did not spring up overnight. Indeed, as Blitzer dramatizes with forensic, unprecedented reporting, it is the result of decades of misguided policy and sweeping corruption. Brilliantly weaving the stories of Central Americans whose lives have been devastated by chronic political conflict and violence with those of American activists, government officials, and the politicians responsible for the country’s tragically tangled immigration policy, Blitzer reveals the full, layered picture for the first time.

Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here is an odyssey of struggle and resilience. With astonishing nuance and detail, Blitzer tells an epic story about the people whose lives ebb and flow across the border, and in doing so, he delves into the heart of American life itself. This vital and remarkable story has shaped the nation’s turbulent politics and culture in countless ways—and will almost certainly determine its future.

About the Author

Jonathan Blitzer is a staff writer at The New Yorker. He has won a National Award for Education Reporting as well as an Edward R. Murrow Award, and was a 2021 Emerson Fellow at New America. He lives with his family in New York City.

Praise For…

“If anyone is well placed to take on the agonizing story of America’s southern frontier it is Jonathan Blitzer, a writer for the New Yorker who has spent the best part of a decade reporting from there. The quotes from Reagan’s White House are among the many diamond-stud details in Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here, Blitzer’s sweeping history of humanitarian crises on the US-Mexico border, and of the politics of immigration in Washington . . . What could be a complex story is a stunning epic woven around the lives of four individuals seeking sanctuary from the death squads and murderous gangs that at different times dominated their homelands . . . While at times this is implicitly an indictment of the sometime short-termism and cynicism of Washington’s foreign, security and immigration policy, this is a novelistic account rather than a tract, and his tale is beautifully told. All four characters, whose lives he has followed over many years, linger in the reader’s mind.” Financial Times

“Sweeping and insightful . . . a New Yorker magazine writer who for years has been one of the most perceptive chroniclers of a complex and often misunderstood bane of U.S. policymakers. Writing with clarity and grace, while avoiding the mawkish tone sometimes associated with tales of the border, Blitzer makes a compelling case that the United States and Central America are knit as one . . . The themes explored in the book feel all the more relevant as we enter a presidential campaign in which immigration is once again a centrally toxic issue . . . Far from reading like a dry policy tome, Blitzer’s book makes its case by telling in vivid detail the stories of a cast of representative figures spread over five decades . . . Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here is sure to take its place as one of the definitive accounts of the U.S. and Central American immigration puzzle, a long and ongoing saga with no real solution in sight . . . And yet, after reading Blitzer’s book, one can’t help but think that the impossible might be possible—that maybe, just maybe, this could be fixed. He’s not trying to lay out a set of policy solutions. He’s making a more nuanced plea, a rejection of the 'selective amnesia' of politics in favor of a deeper understanding of how we—as a nation and as a region—got here. It is a book with a 'mission' . . . Hopefully, those with the power to change things will listen.” —Manuel Roig-Franzia, Washington Post

“As Jonathan Blitzer shows in Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here, his timely and instructive history of the immigration crisis, the trouble at the border isn’t likely to be solved soon, since it is the outcome of a long and vexed entanglement between the United States and its southern neighbors . . . Conflicts over immigration often arise from similarity rather than difference, and the strangers at our border have a familiar history that Blitzer tells in meticulous and vivid detail. It is our own.” —Matthieu Aikins, The New York Times

“What we’re seeing today on the southern border and in cities including New York, where more than 100,000 migrants arrived in the past year—are reverberations of a long, violent history that implicates the United States for its meddling in Central America. This is the story that Jonathan Blitzer painstakingly documents in his new book, Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here . . . Blitzer shows all the ways our immigration system is in shambles. A series of misguided actions and their consequences brought us to this point. This book begins the reckoning we desperately need.” The Atlantic

“Capacious, stirring . . . Blitzer assiduously chronicles this dark history with a keen eye for individual lives; the personal is literally political . . . Blitzer's research and reporting are extensive and impeccable, a feat in an age of TikTok memes and Twitter mobs. But perhaps his most resonant, if damning, argument is just how oblivious Americans have been—and still are—to widespread suffering committed in our name. Out of sight, out of mind. Blitzer never shirks from his duty: to show us who we truly are. His is a vital, momentous book.” Minneapolis Star Tribune

“The new book every American needs to read before they vote . . . The masterstroke accomplishment of Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here is the way that Blitzer weaves the gripping stories of refugees with the 45-year history of policymaking in Washington, where elected officials and key bureaucrats—some craven and nakedly political, others well-meaning—repeatedly fought the wrong wars and worried about the wrong things to spin the tangled web of policies that caused a humanitarian nightmare.” Philadelphia Inquirer

“Blitzer painstakingly recounts the brutal circumstances behind this mass exodus, emphasizing the humanity of the people who uprooted their lives in search of safety in the US, only to find themselves criminalized in the very country they hoped would be their refuge . . . Blitzer has a magazine writer’s keen attention to detail, and while the larger policy decisions of the United States are never far from the book’s narrative, he also turns his readers’ attention to the people whose lives are affected by them. His aim, he tells us, is ‘to be a kind of go-between: to tell each side’s story to the other’ and to allow migrants ‘to participate, for once, in the privileged backroom conversations that decide their fate.’”The Nation

“What an incredibly thorough documentation of the causes of the immigration crisis, the discussions that have been going on through multiple administrations.” —Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

“In this urgent, extraordinary book, Jonathan Blitzer takes a crisis we generally encounter in the black-and-white simplicity of sound bites and statistics and reconceives it in complicated, unforgettable color. Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here tells the origin story of our border emergency as both a sweeping panorama, traversing decades and continents, and an intimate chronicle of the lives of a handful of indelible characters. Based on years of unparalleled reporting with migrants, activists, and policymakers, the book offers a profound reflection on one of the great paradoxes of American life—and a tribute to the astonishing indomitability of the human spirit.” —Patrick Radden Keefe, New York Times bestselling author of Say Nothing and Empire of Pain
Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here is a searing, gut-wrenching, and masterfully reported account of one of the greatest humanitarian crises of the twenty-first century. No one has told this story so well as Jonathan Blitzer, whose incisive historical and political analysis brings into devastatingly sharp relief the gripping, heartbreaking tales told to him by migrants in search of ‘una cucharita de justicia,’ a little spoonful of justice.” —Jill Lepore, New York Times bestselling author of These Truths: A History of the United States
“As a Salvadoran, and as a previously undocumented person living in the United States, it has felt impossible to find a single comprehensive, concise timeline that could tie my existence in this country to the wars funded by US taxpayers. Through in-depth research, a commitment to truth, and brilliant storytelling, Jonathan Blitzer has written the quintessential book that links Central American migration to US imperialism. Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here is a masterpiece that everybody, everybody should read.” —Javier Zamora, New York Times bestselling author of Solito

“An immense work that is both a modern history of Central America and a collection of oral histories from those who have survived. Through sources turned characters—and their pursuit of asylum, justice, and survival—Blitzer takes us on a borderless, nonlinear journey through brutal military dictatorships, smugglers, the changing maze of U.S. immigration law, and an asylum policy that has been politicized since its inception. Ultimately, the book succeeds in holding a mirror up to our present-day crisis on the southern border and how it evolved . . . Blitzer weaves the strands of oral history and hard data to vivid effect here. His keen eye for nuance in language, as well as a gift for setting and pacing, hold this multi-narrative work together and help create a sense of urgency.” Alta

“Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here is a welcome intervention in a toxic discourse, one that unveils the ties that bind our artificially fractured hemisphere.” Texas Observer

“[Blitzer’s] powerful, compassionate account highlights individual stories, creating an epic portrayal of migration’s human stakes.” Christian Science Monitor

“A remarkable volume . . . In painstaking detail, Blitzer compiles the history of the U.S.’s involvement in Central America, and illustrates how foreign and immigration policies have irrevocably altered human lives—as well as tying them to one another.” ELLE

“An insightful, yet heartbreaking, look at the humanitarian crisis that's unfolding.” Cosmopolitan

“Blitzer, a staff writer for the New Yorker, debuts with a masterful portrayal of the trauma experienced by asylum-seeking migrants from Central America and the U.S. government’s often inept policy interventions . . . Blitzer has produced a model of long-form journalism that intertwines the personal and the political . . . This is a powerful indictment of U.S. immigration policy.” Publisher's Weekly (starred review)

“Conditions on the U.S.–Mexico border have worsened as thousands of Central Americans clamor to enter the U.S., braving diversion tactics that have included separating children from their families and placing adults in conditions that resemble concentration camps. It’s a sorrowful yet urgent topic, and Blitzer navigates it with both journalistic rigor and compassion. A sobering, well-reported history in which no one emerges a winner.”
—​Kirkus (starred review)

“I have a lot of resistance to reading about immigration because I do not feel that I, an immigrant, am the intended audience, but Jon’s writing is different. He does not ogle, romanticize, proselytize, or condescend. His storytelling is bold, and the research involved is impressive, but what I admire most about this book is its moral clarity. It’s crystalline. I really loved it. I couldn’t put it down.” —Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, author of The Undocumented Americans
“This book will tear your heart out. Both intimate and comprehensive, it treks deep into the tragedies of El Salvador, Guatemala, and US immigration policy. Jon Blitzer’s reporting is vast, meticulous, and authoritative. The main characters are drawn with the richness of great fiction.” —William Finnegan, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Barbarian Days

“With rare humanity, narrative acumen, and a detective’s eye for the telling detail, Jonathan Blitzer has given the U.S.-Central American immigration crisis the epic treatment that it deserves. This is the story of ordinary people forced to live extraordinary lives in a time of endless tumult. Reminiscent of classic past social inquiries by the likes of George Orwell and Tracy Kidder, Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here is an unparalleled piece of modern journalism about one of the most compelling, and polarizing issues of our time. A remarkable and invaluable achievement.” —Jon Lee Anderson, bestselling author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life

“A decades-long regional tragedy plays out in riveting detail, and no one who reads Jonathan Blitzer’s marvelous new book will ever view the current headlines in quite the same way. Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here is a breathtaking and immersive work of journalism, laying out in novelistic detail the violent, treacherous roots of the current immigration crisis. It’s a riveting, maddening, and ultimately moving story that every American who cares about immigration should read.” —Daniel Alarcón, author of At Night We Walk in Circles and Lost City Radio
Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here is a book about immigration of unparalleled significance: a definitive history of the human tragedy wrought by decades of flawed U.S. policies, and the rare triumph of those who outrun, outwit, and outlast them.” —Eliza Griswold, Pulitzer Prizewinning author of Amity and Prosperity
“Powerful and deeply compelling, Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here shows how Central American migration has created deep interconnections between the US, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. This story reminds readers that migration is not only a political issue but a human one.” —Ana Raquel Minian, author of In the Shadow of Liberty
Product Details
ISBN: 9781984880802
ISBN-10: 1984880802
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: January 30th, 2024
Pages: 544
Language: English