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Charles Bowden

Charles Bowden is a Pulitzer Prize nominee, and winner of a Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction and the Sidney Hillman Foundation Award. A contributing editor for GQ, his writing has appeared in many magazines including Harper’s, Mother Jones, National Geographic, and Esquire. His essay “The Crazy Place” is an excerpt from his forthcoming book Murder City: Lessons of the Dead in Mexico. His previous books include Some of the Dead are Still Breathing: Living in the Future; A Shadow in the City: Confessions of an Undercover Drug Warrior;Down by the River: Drugs, Money, Murder and Family; Blues for Cannibals; and Blood Orchid: An Unnatural History of America.


Every five days the staff of a makeshift asylum at the edge of Juárez wash the inmates’ bedding and spread it to dry on bushes. Many of the residents of “the crazy place” have been driven mad by drug use and the anguish of loved ones lost to the drug war (Julián Cardona).

The Crazy Place

In Juárez, people vanish. They leave a bar with the authorities and are never seen again. They leave their homes on an errand and never return. They go to a meeting and never come back. They are waiting at a bus stop and never arrive at their assumed destination. No one really knows how many people vanish. It is not safe to ask, and it is not wise to place a call to the authorities.