The Mexican Operation (The Mafia, Mexican Immigrants, and Racism in a 1950's Desert Town)

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9780971471993: The Mexican Operation (The Mafia, Mexican Immigrants, and Racism in a 1950's Desert Town)

A graphic story of the international exploitation of the Bracero Program. The roots of the out-of-control twenty-first-century illegal Mexican immigration problem. How it all started, based on the real-life experiences of the author and murder of his father. The lives of six men--a ruthless Mafia hit man, a determined Portuguese taxi company owner, a street-smart young man raised in orphanages and foster homes, a giant Negro field worker, a humble Mexican campesino, and a rich cowboy movie star are thrown together by fate in a desolate desert town. The Mexican Operation is a western set in the 1950 s, complete with wild horses and good-guys and bad-guys and their women, with a brutal, shocking tale to tell, this is a story of simple life on a desert river, of the corruption that created the money that helped build early Las Vegas, of interracial culture and prejudice, of the shameless abuses of legal and illegal Mexican immigrants, and of social tension in a town and in a era that time and society have already forgotten about. In his new book, Lee Silva breaks all of the traditional rules again by including a non-fiction introduction with his fictional text, a non-fiction Epilogue, an Afterword expressing his thoughts on the current illegal immigration problems with a mini history of the U.S. Border Patrol, and a bonus photo section with 61 black and white photos (including some of himself as a teenage cowboy, taxi driver, and river rat in 1950s Blythe, California.)

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About the Author:

Lee A.Silva is a descendant of California Gold Rush pioneers, a retired Las Vegas lounge singer and song writer, and has been writing for over thirty-five years, specializing in the history and weapons of the Old West. While spending twenty-five years being what he calls a "saloon singer," Lee began writing Old West history. Today, he is a recognized authority on the gunfighters and weapons of the frontier. Silva has worked as a cowboy, lifeguard, taxi driver, jail keeper, hunting guide, process server, insurance investigator, and other jobs. Lee attended San Jose State University, where he majored in wildlife conservation, police science, and creative writing, and earned a B.A. degree in business. After graduating from college, Silva worked as a Porsche and Rolls Royce salesman, abalone and salvage diver and antique gun dealer. As a Hollywood actor, Lee appeared in daytime soaps and in the TV series Rawhide. He became a headline singer in Las Vegas with his life-long friends Stan Williams and Gil Sabourin, and he continued to sing and teach guitar in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. Lee A. Silva is a twenty-six year member of the Western Writers of America, has been nominated four times for the Western Writers of America Spur award. His 2002 book Wyatt Earp: A Biography of the Legend, Volume I, the Cowtown Years, was voted the most outstanding book of the year by the Western Outlaw-Lawman History Association (WOLA). Lee and his wife, author Susan Silva, also received the 2005 Western Outlaw-Lawman History Association (WOLA) award for the most outstanding Old West article of the year for Charlie Russell s Last Legacy, which was featured in Wild West magazine. Lee A. Silva is one of the co-authors of Guns and the Gunfighters; America: The Men and Their Guns That Made Her Great; and The Official Price Guide to Old West Collectibles. He has also been a literary judge for the Western Writers of America Spur Awards and the National Cowboy Hall of Fame Western Heritage Museum Awards.

Review:

As the United States heads towards its next presidential election, two major issues-the war in Iraq and illegal immigration-continue to provoke debate and controversy. Lee Silva's historical novel takes readers back sixty years to examine the causes of illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States. His story operates as several levels above all, a tribute to his father, Al Silva, whose death in 1962 Hermosillo has never been satisfactorily resolved. The character Hal DaSilva is obviously Lee's father, and the vents in the story are based largely on his life and work. The book also examines the role of organized crime in reaping profits from both legal and illegal Mexican immigrants. Silva indicts the Bracero Program for its corruption and exploitation on both sides of the border. His evocation of life in Blythe, California, the setting for most of the narrative, recalls his growing up there. The central narrative deals with friendship and betrayal as Hal, Jeff Stone, and Dominick Avanti become entangled in events that prove beyond their control. Their fictional activities are backed by the historical incidents that give this book a sharply drawn reality. Mexicans gathering at the town of Empalme must pay the mordida (bribe) to Mexican officials to obtain a bracero certificate, or to hire a coyote (smuggler) to get across the border illegally. Either way, they endure horrific conditions and make tremendous sacrifices to risk entering the United States. Silva's novel follows a tradition of other activist novels, most notably Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom s Cabin, Helen Hunt Jackson's Ramona, and Alex Haley's Roots, works written to awaken public concern over injustice to minorities. Silva first wrote the book in 1979, and he updates it with an afterword and includes photographs at the end of the text illustrating life in Blythe and its outlying areas in the postwar era. If sonic of the conversations among the characters read like set speeches, it is only to remind the reader that questions of exploitation, racism, and injustice are not restricted to a particular time but remain challenging issues we have yet to resolve. --Abraham Hoffman --The Roundup Magazine - Western Writers of America June 2007

The newest book on the early history of Blythe [California] is now in circulation at the Palo Verde Valley Library. Authored by Lee A. Silva, The Mexican Operation: The Mafia, Mexican Immigrants, and Racism in a 1950s Desert Town is a fictionalized accounting of the 1950s and early 1960s when the Bracero, or documented guest worker program, was in full swing. Silva grew up in Blythe in those heady days, and draws on his experiences and memories of the local life some 50 or 60 years ago to craft his novel of Blythe, during one of the United States Government's guest worker experiments. The Mexican Operation centers on the Red Top Taxi's service and it's thinly veiled owner, DaSilva. Streets and sites in town are identified, although not always placed in their proper geographical locations. Farms and ranches and their owners cannot be identified, but their existence is intricately woven into the story format. The life of a Mexican bracero (legal guest worker) or an illegal farm worker is graphically illustrated... Numerous actual incidents involving the guest farm workers and illegal workers are recounted, although not necessarily in chronological order. The actions of fictional characters are woven throughout the entire narrative turning a drab reiteration of facts into a spellbinding thriller. To tie his novel into reality, Silva has a photo gallery at the end of the book of sites and persons relevant to the story. Included are a number of photos not normally seen of Blythe and its surroundings. In light of the current uproar over illegal immigrants and the debate over a government sponsored migrant worker program, The Mexican Operation will provide provocative insights for thought. For an appreciation of what life was like in Blythe in the '50s and '60s, the reader will realize how far we have come in creature comforts. For a glimpse at rare photos of that era, this book is a must. And for a virtual novel with a thriller pace, The Mexican Operation is guaranteed exciting reading... --Rosita Smith --The Valley News - Blythe, California Wednesday January 10, 2007

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