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Know the West

A review of Continental Divide: Wildlife, People and the Border Wall


Continental Divide: Wildlife, People and the Border Wall,
Krista Schlyer,
292 pages.
Softcover: $30,
Texas A&M University Press, 2012

Walls do not solve problems; they make them. That is the simple, elegant premise of writer and photographer Krista Schlyer's book Continental Divide, which chronicles the unintended ecological and social consequences of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Schlyer argues forcefully that the barrier has done little to stem the tide of illegal immigrants into this country, and has actually made the problem worse. Migrants travel through ever more remote parts of the desert, risking their lives and endangering the plant and animal communities that they, and the border patrol who chase them, encounter. The wall itself also causes ecological chaos, disrupting wildlife migration and separating animals from food and water. Schlyer's photographs detail a desert in distress, but also show the raw beauty of a misunderstood landscape.