Posted by Jamie M., Book Specialist on April 14, 2017
Author of "Wolf Boys", Dan Slater, tells Bulk Bookstore about his journey into the heart of Laredo, Texas and beyond as he sets out to share the shocking true story behind teenager involvement in drug cartels, the violent reality of the U.S.-Mexico border, and how these truths can inspire young people experiencing similar struggles.
The Ugly Truth
The story of the “Wolf Boys” is anything but fiction. In 2009, Texas native Gabriel Cardona was arrested, along with a crew of teenage assassins, at the age of 19. Unfortunately, this epidemic of “teen assassins” is not unfamiliar in Laredo and places like it, border towns where drug lords reign and young boys begin smuggling drugs – and worse – before they even hit puberty.
Former Wall Street Journal reporter Dan Slater was immediately tugged into this harsh world by what he called “the allure of cartel logic,” plus an all-too relatable curiosity as to how so many young boys could get involved in such an environment. Slater began to write to Cardona, who wrote back and from there, the journey began.
Slater continued to correspond with Cardona, as well as other imprisoned former cartel members and teen assassins, leading to the publishing of his nonfiction book Wolf Boys, and an article in the New Yorker that would kick-start its notoriety.
“As I was working on Wolf Boys, I would often hear from people who would say ‘I doubt that many people in Laredo would actually read your book because people in Laredo don’t read.”
A Man on a Mission
Since the book was published in September 2016, Slater is out to prove those people wrong. Slater has been going above and beyond to get “Wolf Boys” into the hands of those who would benefit from the story the most – teenagers in Laredo, in other bordertowns, in English and History classes around the country. He researched and sent emails to high school after high school, teacher after teacher, asking if they would like copies of his book for their classroom and, to his surprise….they did.
“It became this obsession for me but it paid off. I start getting flooded with responses from Laredo English teachers and librarians saying YES we’d love to read your book! Some had already heard about it, some said their husbands read it, some said “How have I not heard about this?”
Since starting this project, Dan has sent out nearly 1,000 books to high schools across the country, as well as communicating with teachers, librarians, and administrators through email and Skype as well as in-person. Click here to watch one of his interviews.
To hear from this teacher and from the students…these were the kids that allegedly don’t read who picked up Wolf Boys and are reading it beginning to end and wanting to ask me all sorts of things about it.”
At the end of the day, Slater explained, all that matters it that copies of his book are in the hands of those who want to read them, but don’t have the means to purchase copies. The overwhelming responses he received, conversations he’s had, and eager-to-read students mean more than anything.
“I now have over a thousand one-on-one open talks going with all of these English teachers and librarians all over the country now, and pretty much all of them have a copy of the book,” he says. “it’s been an amazing honor and a privilege to be in touch with all of these folks.”
Why Bulk Bookstore?
After Slater ran out of the copies his publisher had provided, he came to Bulk Bookstore to restock on “Wolf Boys.”
“I ordered a lot of the books myself from Bulk Bookstore and you’ll see now when the paperback for Wolf Boys comes out in August-September, you’ll see!” We’re looking forward to more orders of Wolf Boys in the future, both in hardcover and paperback, as much as the author is!
At his core, Dan Slater wants these books in classrooms – especially in struggling schools with hardly any resources, with uninspired students.
This Book Specialist agrees – the more we can do to help our struggling educational communities by providing them with bulk books, the better. From class sets to guides, we do our best to stay stocked on everything these classrooms may need, but rarely do we remember than not every school is able to buy books online.
Here are some excerpts from emails that Slater has received from educators:
From a Laredo English Teacher: “Thank you for not being afraid to put truth out there. I appreciate you sharing your outsider's perspective with the world. And if you ever need anything in Laredo, I'd be glad to lend a hand.”
Miami English teacher: “Believe me when I say that it is an absolute struggle to find books that might hold the interest of the majority of these kids; but there's definitely a fascination with the cartels among my demographic, so I'd be happy to help introduce it to them.”
El Paso English teacher: “I received your book. Thank you. My seniors have picked their own book to read for this last 9wks of school. After telling them about your book, I have several students interested in your book. Is there any way you can send one or two more copies? I am excited that they even asked me to help them find a copy!!”
A big thank you to Dan Slater for sharing this incredible story with us!
Click here to purchase Wolf Boys in bulk.