All the Agents and Saints

Dispatches from the U.S. Borderlands

By Stephanie Elizondo Griest

312 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 3 maps, notes

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3159-2
    Published: July 2017

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Awards & distinctions

Finalist, Best Nonfiction Political/Current Affairs Book Award, International Latino Book Awards

After a decade of chasing stories around the globe, intrepid travel writer Stephanie Elizondo Griest followed the magnetic pull home--only to discover that her native South Texas had been radically transformed in her absence. Ravaged by drug wars and barricaded by an eighteen-foot steel wall, her ancestral land had become the nation’s foremost crossing ground for undocumented workers, many of whom perished along the way. The frequency of these tragedies seemed like a terrible coincidence, before Elizondo Griest moved to the New York / Canada borderlands. Once she began to meet Mohawks from the Akwesasne Nation, however, she recognized striking parallels to life on the southern border. Having lost their land through devious treaties, their mother tongues at English-only schools, and their traditional occupations through capitalist ventures, Tejanos and Mohawks alike struggle under the legacy of colonialism. Toxic industries surround their neighborhoods while the U.S. Border Patrol militarizes them. Combating these forces are legions of artists and activists devoted to preserving their indigenous cultures. Complex belief systems, meanwhile, conjure miracles. In All the Agents and Saints, Elizondo Griest weaves seven years of stories into a meditation on the existential impact of international borderlines by illuminating the spaces in between and the people who live there.

About the Author

Stephanie Elizondo Griest is author of the award-winning memoirs Around the Bloc and Mexican Enough. Assistant professor of creative nonfiction at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she has lectured across the world, including as U.S. State Department literary ambassador to Venezuela in 2015, and has been a Henry Luce Scholar in China, Hodder Fellow at Princeton, and winner of the Margolis Award for Social Justice Reporting. Visit her website at
For more information about Stephanie Elizondo Griest, visit the Author Page.


“An exploration of the borderlands that deftly mixes memoir, groundbreaking sociology, deep reporting, and compelling writing. . . . Demonstrates unforgettably that national borders constitute much more than lines on a map.”--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Elizondo Griest glimpses the modern immigrant experience through the lives of people who live in more than one culture. . . . Wrestles with profound questions of identity and belonging in a constantly shifting and increasingly unstable world.”--Publishers Weekly

"Builds a potent case for the erasure of arbitrary borderlines. This work of exploration and reporting is a timely reflection on the meaning and nature of much-discussed national boundaries."--Booklist

“Offers much more than just a very smart and companionable tour of the country’s ragged edges. It offers a model for how a curious person, any person who is sufficiently interested, can begin to navigate the boundaries that compartmentalize our country, and ourselves, toward wholeness.”--Brad Tyer, Texas Observer

“With sensitivity and eye-opening detail, [Elizondo Griest's] dispatches reveal both the pain and strength of borderlands people.”--Shelf Awareness

“A must-read for anyone interested in the history of North America, its borderlands and their repercussions.”--Chapel Hill Magazine