Patrick Radden Keefe
‘Reads like a mashup of The Godfather and Chinatown, complete with gun battles, a ruthless kingpin and a mountain of cash. Except that it’s all true.’ – Time
In this thrilling panorama of real-life events, the bestselling author of Empire of Pain investigates a secret world run by a surprising criminal: a charismatic middle-aged grandmother, who from a tiny noodle shop in New York’s Chinatown, managed a multimillion-dollar business smuggling people.
In The Snakehead, Patrick Radden Keefe reveals the inner workings of Cheng Chui Ping aka Sister Ping’s complex empire and recounts the decade-long FBI investigation that eventually brought her down. He follows an often incompetent and sometimes corrupt INS as it pursues desperate immigrants risking everything to come to America, and along the way he paints a stunning portrait of a generation of undocumented immigrants and the intricate underground economy that sustains and exploits them.
Grand in scope yet propulsive in narrative force, The Snakehead is both a kaleidoscopic crime story and a brilliant exploration of the ironies of immigration in America.
‘A powerful piece of reportage about the violent underworld of New York’s Chinatown’ – The Times
Reads like a mashup of The Godfather and Chinatown, complete with gun battles, a ruthless kingpin and a mountain of cash. Except that it's all true. * Time * Essential reading. . . . A rich, beautifully told story, so suspenseful and with so many unexpected twists that in places it reads like a John le Carre novel. * The Washington Post * A masterwork . . . In this single tale about a global criminal, Keefe finds a story of quintessentially American hope. * Christian Science Monitor * Painstakingly reported and vividly told. . . . As immigration reform languishes in Washington . . . everyone involved--from policymakers to activists to the undocumented--would be wise to read The Snakehead. * Newsweek * A formidably well-researched book that is as much a paean to its author's industriousness as it is a chronicle of crime. -- Janet Maslin * New York Times * Bracing, vivid . . . Keefe writes gracefully, perceptively, insightfully . . . Without sacrificing one iota of narrative momentum, he untangles a dauntingly complicated human-trafficking operation so a reader can effortlessly follow along. * The New York Times Book Review * Brilliant . . . Keefe's mastery of this chapter of our ongoing immigration saga is impressive. He muses thoughtfully about its many conundrums and highlights how our ethos of welcoming the persecuted gets soured by bad policy and the pervasive exploitation of the helpless. * Los Angeles Times * Engrossing. . . . Keefe's narrative delves deeply into Chinatown and the labyrinthine smuggling routes between China and America, but it's also a glimpse into our conflicted feelings about illegals and the morass of America's immigration policy. * New York Magazine *
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