God’s Middle Finger by Richard Grant

God’s Middle Finger by Richard Grant 1

God’s Middle Finger by Richard Grant was one of the best travel books I read all year. Richard Grant is such a consistent, solid writer.

The book chronicles several of his journeys through the northern Sierra Madre of Mexico. It’s an area that is not only rough & lawless but has been rough & lawless since before Spanish colonialism.

What I Liked

The writing is absolutely amazing. It’s engaging and page-turning while still retaining nuance and pro-journalist-research.

The author knows how to put together a novel adventure and set a scene.

I love how he meets who he meets in the book and how he simply gets around such a rugged place on Earth.

What I Did Not Like

In this book, more than in his other books, Grant really pushes the boundaries of imposing on his friends and generous local people to help him seek out the danger that he sorely misunderstands. It gets awkward and maddening in places. However, that is part of the book – Grant learning that danger isn’t so much a place per se as situations created by people – who could be anywhere.


Even the “worst” areas of the world are almost completely full of friendly, decent people trying to get along with their lives. Even in an area like the northern Sierra Madre, the author had to break basically all the most basic rules of safe travel to get himself into trouble – and even then, it was mainly down to bad luck and a stubborn refusal to listen to a local farmer who was looking out for him.

Just like there is huge diversity among States in the United States, there is a wide range of diversity among Mexican States. The States that contain the Sierra Madre, are especially so.

The culture that arises from coping & surviving in a harsh environment can be the same culture that keeps an area from improving at all.

It is hard to overstate just how much the American-led War on Drugs has negatively affected Mexico.

And yet, for all the coverage and focus that “hard” drugs get in the media and popular culture, it is regular ‘ole alcohol that does far, far, far more individual and societal damage.

If you put lots of young men; lots of weapons; lots of drugs (notably alcohol) into a small area and then remove peaceful ways of achieving status and success while providing insane windfalls of financial success for doing insane, murderous activities…..you’re gonna have a bad time.

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