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Trail of Feathers: Searching for Philip True, a Reporter's Murder in Mexico and His Editor's Search for Justiceby Robert Rivard
Synopses & Reviews
In December 1998, San Antonio Express-News reporter Philip True vanished during a solo backcountry trek in western Mexico, home of the reclusive Huichol Indians and the Chapalagana, the Twisted Serpent Canyon, a 150-mile long gash that twists and plunges through the heart of the Sierra Madre. Five days later his editor, Robert Rivard, was part of a small search party that, nearly miraculously, tracked a trail of feathers that had leaked from True's sleeping bag to find his body.
Trail of Feathers is the story of the search for True and of the quest to bring his killers to justice. It is also the story of another perplexing mystery: Why had True taken such a dangerous trip, into such a raw, uncivilized wilderness, alone and without sufficient safety preparations, in the first place? After an unhappy and unsettled youth, True was at the age of fifty finally settling down to a career and a wife he loved. His first child was about to be born. What was he running from, or to?
Rivard's search for answers to these questions leads him deep into the Sierra Madre Occidental, one of Mexico's last true wildernesses, and deep into the secrets of Philip True's past. It also leads him into his own past, and an acknowledgment of the ways in which his life and True's mirrored each other. Suspenseful, atmospheric, and moving, Trail of Feathers is more than a true crime tale; it's a classic tragedy about how the past reverberates destructively into the present — for individuals, for cultures, for nations.
"Philip True was the epitome of a reporter's reporter, at least as described in this moving account of his murder in a remote corner of western Mexico, written by his editor at the San Antonio Express-News, for which True was the Mexico City correspondent. In December 1998, despite a lack of editorial interest, True set off on a 10-day expedition into the canyons of the Sierra Madre, hoping to write a story on the region's Huichol Indians. Rivard's book follows the agonizing six-year-long process by which he and others worked to find out what happened to True. First, there was the discovery of True's hastily buried corpse (which Rivard helped dig out with his bare hands); then, the tortuous journey through the opaque Mexican legal system. Rivard thoroughly fleshes out True, a California hippie with a troubled upbringing who became an ace foreign correspondent, and such characters as the sullen Huichols accused of the murder, the delusional crusader defending them, and Mexican president Vicente Fox. Rivard's engaging, compassionate, though sometimes long-winded story goes beyond the tragedy of True's death to include the vast, beautiful and troubling world of Mexico itself, 'where people are preyed on by the very forces that exist to protect them.' Agent, Collins McCormick. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
When a reporter disappears in Huichol Indian territory in Mexico's forbidding Sierra Madre, newspaper editor Robert Rivard goes on his own long journey to discover what happened to him — and why.
About the Author
Robert Rivard has served as the editor of the San Antonio Express-News since 1997. He was awarded the 2002 Maria Moors Cabot Award from Columbia University and the Society of Professional Journalists' top prize for foreign correspondents in 1982. Both were in recognition of his work as a journalist in Latin America. He is married to Monika Maeckle. They have two sons.
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