... proves that truth does not come from a mere recitation of facts, but from the messy byways of memory and other more unexpected sources ... partially about how the past haunts the present, especially if the root issues go unaddressed. The book is about Mexico, and Torreón, but its lessons are not limited to those localities. Herbert claims that 'this is not the story you were expecting,' but in many ways it is achingly familiar.
... after the buildup (and garbled metaphors), what Herbert trundles out is fairly straightforward: a dense, detailed narrative of the massacre — although not without a few flourishes ... It’s the unearthed American connection to the massacre that is Herbert’s most interesting contribution ... The great strength of Herbert’s book, written with such shame and fury, is that it is not framed as epitaph but as dispatch from a live crime scene, attentive to the silences, the still seething resentments, relinquishing nothing to history.
Some sections about the intricacies of local and international politics—and long block quotations from others’ accounts of the slaughter—will require patience from readers, but the stories of the preludes to the violence, and of the horrors themselves, are simultaneously gripping and depressing. Murder, post-mortem brutality, the blood of children running in the streets, and xenophobia out of control: These and other aspects of the narrative will simultaneously propel readers through the pages and frequently disgust them ... The strengths of Herbert’s writing are patent throughout: his vast, comprehensive research; his often elegant phrases and sentences his empathy; and his determination to be accurate and fair.