Early in the twentieth century, some three hundred Chinese immigrants were massacred over the course of three days. It is considered the largest slaughter of Chinese people in the history of the Americas, but more than a century later, the facts continue to be elusive, mistaken, and repressed. This historical excavation echoes in an age of violence and xenophobia.
... 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.