State of War

State of War
MS-13 and El Salvador’s World of Violence

The Story of MS-13 and Its American Roots

"Gripping, electrifying study of the brutal Salvadoran gang culture....Wheeler has shown us the bloody consequences borne by real people — and given us a powerful, unforgettable book."
—Mark Danner

One of President Donald Trump’s favorite rhetorical motifs is stoking fear that members of the MS-13 gang from El Salvador intend to cross the U.S. border in force and wreak havoc on American society. It’s an inaccurate scenario, and in State of War, foreign correspondent William Wheeler tells the real story: In the 1980s, the U.S. supported the repressive Salvadoran government in a brutal civil war, and many Salvadoran families fled to America—especially Los Angeles, where teenagers in poor neighborhoods founded MS-13. A decade later, the U.S. responded to rising anti-immigrant sentiment by deporting many Salvadorans back home. Ever since, El Salvador has been one of the most violent countries in the world.

Wheeler interviewed gang members, frustrated intelligence officers, and crime investigators who give chilling insider reports of how corruption at the highest levels has helped the gangs become stronger, richer, and more influential than ever. State of War makes vividly clear why Salvadorans are fleeing their country, and why Trump’s harsh immigration and asylum policies may only empower the gangs more.

 

 

 

State of War
  • ISBN: 978-1-7336237-2-8
  • Price: 15.99
  • E-Book price: 15.99
  • E-book ISBN: 978-1-7336237-3-5
  • On Sale: January 15, 2020
  • Pages: 167

Advance Praise

"In State of War, his gripping, electrifying study of the brutal Salvadoran gang culture, William Wheeler dramatizes with almost painful immediacy a vital truth: that all the fevered talk about a "crisis at the border" is really an ignorant lament about what three decades of US foreign policy have wrought. At its core, the so-called crisis is about what we as Americans have done to El Salvador and its Central American neighbors. To confront the savage violence ripping through those countries and sending their citizens on a desperate flight north is ultimately to find oneself gazing at the American face in the mirror. With his vivid prose and intrepid reporting, Wheeler has shown us the bloody consequences borne by real people -- and given us a powerful, unforgettable book."
—Mark Danner, author of The Massacre at El Mozote and Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War

Brisk, chilling examination of El Salvador's descent into violence and the role of notorious transnational gang MS-13. Journalist Wheeler combines a clear sense of geopolitical history and gutsy on-the-ground reporting, producing a compact tale of a slow-motion, violent societal collapse....An urgent, digestible document of a violently failing state, with clear connection to flawed American policies past and present."
Kirkus Reviews 

 

 

 

 

 

About the author

William Wheeler
© Miranda Sita

William Wheeler is a writer and producer whose work has appeared in The New York TimesTIMEForeign AffairsThe New RepublicMcSweeney‘s QuarterlyPlayboy, and elsewhere. He holds graduate degrees in international affairs and journalism from Columbia University. He is also the host of the podcast, “Detours: Conversations with Global Storytellers.” State of War is his first book. Follow him on Twitter at @williamgwheeler.

 

 

 

Upcoming Event

William Wheeler at the Strand Book Store (in conversation with MSNBC’s David Gura)

William Wheeler at the Strand Book Store (in conversation with MSNBC’s David Gura)

Thursday, January 16, 2020
7:00pm — 8:00pm

The Strand Bookstore
828 Broadway (& 12th Street)
New York, NY 10003

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Upcoming Event

William Wheeler at Politics & Prose (in conversation with Thomas Edsall)

William Wheeler at Politics & Prose (in conversation with Thomas Edsall)

Saturday, January 18, 2020
1:00pm — 2:00pm

Politics and Prose Bookstore
5015 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008

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Upcoming Event

William Wheeler at Elliott Bay Book Co.

William Wheeler at Elliott Bay Book Co.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020
7:00pm — 8:00pm

The Elliott Bay Book Company
1521 10th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

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Upcoming Event

William Wheeler at World Affairs | San Francisco, CA

William Wheeler at World Affairs | San Francisco, CA

Wednesday, January 22, 2020
6:30pm — 8:00pm

World Affairs
312 Sutter Street, Suite 200
San Francisco, California 94108

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Upcoming Event

William Wheeler at World Affairs Council of Los Angeles and Town Hall

William Wheeler at World Affairs Council of Los Angeles and Town Hall

Tuesday, February 4, 2020
7:00pm — 8:00pm

Los Angeles, CA

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Upcoming Event

William Wheeler at World Affairs | Houston, TX

William Wheeler at World Affairs | Houston, TX

Thursday, February 6, 2020
7:00pm — 8:00pm

Houston, TX

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