The 2014 WOLA-Duke Book Award for Human Rights in Latin America is The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail by Óscar Martí­nez.

Oscar

Martínez writes for Elfaro.net, an award-winning El Salvador-based investigative journalism site. The Beast chronicles the harrowing stories garnered from Martínez’s two years spent traveling up and down the migrant trail from Central America to the U.S.-Mexico border. Telling compelling stories with powerful prose, Martínez gives readers a rare glimpse into the horrors that millions of migrants experience on their journey to el Norte. Every day thousands of migrants are extorted, kidnapped, and raped as they migrate. This book has a timely message as Congress debates new legislation regarding border security and aid to Central America.

Translated by Daniela Maria Ugaz and John Washington, The Beast provides an unflinching look into the lives of people who make the difficult decision to migrate. Martínez tells deeply personal stories, beginning with the real reason many choose to leave—violence in their home countries—and accompanies them through the dangers they risk while in transit. His book puts a human face on the current immigration debate and calls attention to the high levels of violence in Central America’s Northern Triangle of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

Dr. Alex Wilde, Research Fellow at American University and WOLA-Duke Book Award panelist calls Martínez’s story “investigative reporting of the highest order on one of the major human rights issues of our day.” Leonor Blum, the chair of this year’s panel of judges and Professor Emerita of history and political science at the Notre Dame of Maryland University calls Martínez “an intrepid young journalist who risked his life many times to make this book possible.”

Named one of the best books of the year by the Economist, Mother Jones, and the Financial Times, The Beast has been hailed as a searing, revelatory, and impressive feat of reportage and storytelling. WOLA and Duke University are proud to honor Óscar Martínez with the 2014 WOLA-Duke Book Award. Started in 2008, the WOLA-Duke Human Rights Book Award is a joint venture of Duke University and WOLA. The award honors the best current, non-fiction book published in English on human rights, democracy, and social justice in contemporary Latin America. The books are evaluated by a panel of expert judges drawn from academia, journalism, and public policy circles.

About the Award:
Started in 2008, the WOLA-Duke Human Rights Book Award is a joint venture of Duke University and WOLA, a leading advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. The award honors the best current, non-fiction book published in English on human rights, democracy, and social justice in contemporary Latin America. The books are evaluated by a panel of expert judges drawn from academia, journalism, and public policy circles. The 2013 judging panel included:

Holly Ackerman, Librarian for Latin America and Iberia, Duke University
Roger Atwood, Journalist, Author, and Former Communications Director, WOLA
Leonor Blum, WOLA Board Member and Emerita Associate Professor, History and Political Science, Notre Dame of Maryland University
Robin Kirk, Faculty Co-Chair, Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute, Duke University
Kathryn Sikkink, Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota

The award is given annually by WOLA and Duke University at an event in Washington, DC. The author of the winning book also gives a reading at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina and receives a $1,000 cash prize.

To be eligible, books must meet the following criteria:

  • An original, non-fiction book related to issues of human rights, the rule of law, social and/or economic justice, or democracy in contemporary Latin America. Books should pertain to events that took place in roughly the past 25 years.
  • Published in the English language by a commercial, university, or non-profit publishing concern. Books written originally in other languages and translated into English are eligible. Self-published books are not eligible.
  • Books must be published the year before or year of their nomination.
  • Scholarly and popular books are eligible. Edited anthologies are not eligible.

Previous Award Recipients

2013 – Jonathan M. Katz, The Big Truck That Went By: How The World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster (Click here to watch the 2013 Book Award presentation and discussion)
2012 – Héctor Abad, Oblivion: A Memoir
2011 – Kathryn Sikkink, The Justice Cascade
2010 – Victoria Bruce and Karin Hayes, with Jorge Enrique Botero, Hostage Nation
2009 – Ambassador Heraldo Muñoz, The Dictator’s Shadow: Life Under Augusto Pinochet
2008 – Francisco Goldman, The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop?

Contact:

Kelly McLaughlin, WOLA
202-797-2171
kmclaughlin@wola.org

Patrick Stawski, Duke University Libraries
919-660-5823
patrick.stawski@duke.edu