As the wall makes its slow march forward, Gibson sets out on a quest to meet people whose lives are connected to the border. It’s hard to think of an archetype he doesn’t profile ... The book’s 60 short chapters are easy to gobble up, especially since Gibson is constantly peppering us with surreal tidbit ... The juicy anecdotes keep the book spicy, but the sheer number of people crammed into the pages prevents any character from ever becoming fully developed. Gibson also falls into a familiar pitfall of contemporary journalistic writing, putting himself in the story even though his character doesn’t give us any deeper insight into the subject. The book sometimes reads a bit like a travelogue of Gibson’s own adventures. It can be disjointing to go from a state representative discussing immigration reform to Gibson quipping about the bad coffee he’s drinking at Denny’s ... But Gibson’s book stands out from the pack in other important ways. So much of today’s journalism lacks context for Trump’s immigration policies. In 14 Miles, the president’s attack on immigration is rightly presented as the latest in a long history of attempts to keep, or kick, foreigners out.
Gibson’s first-hand accounts and comments on his broken Spanish and the quality of whatever coffee he’s being subjected to bring a personal edge to his observations and research on a topic with international reach spanning decades. In the shadow of the prototypes, Gibson seeks out people willing to share their experiences of and perspectives on the impact of the many forces at work on the border...They’re all given voices within Gibson’s enlightening and inclusive report on the walled border.