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The Snakehead


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PATRICK RADDEN KEEFE is a fellow at The Century Foundation and the author of "Chatter." He is a graduate of Columbia College, Cambridge University, the London School of Economics, and Yale Law School, and the recipient of a Marshall Scholarship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. A regular contributor to "The New Yorker," "Slate," and many other publications, he is also a frequent commentator on NPR, the BBC, and CNN. Visit his Web site at


Keefe ("Chatter") examines America's complicated relationship with immigration in this brilliant account of Cheng Chui Ping, known as Sister Ping, who built a multimillion-dollar empire as a "snakehead," smuggling Chinese immigrants into America. Sister Ping herself entered the U.S. legally in 1981 from China's Fuzhou province, but was soon known among Fujianese immigrants in Manhattan's Chinatown as the go-to for advice, loans and connections to bring their families to America. Her empire grew so large that she contracted out muscle work to the local gang, the Fuk Ching. Keefe points to the "Golden Venture"-a ship full of Fujianese illegals that ran fatally aground in 1993-as the beginning of the end for Sister Ping. She was sentenced in 2000 to 35 years in prison for conspiracy, money laundering and trafficking. Despite an enormous cast of characters in a huge underground web of global crime, Keefe's account maintains the swift pace of a thriller. With the immigration debate still boiling, this exploration of how far people will go to achieve the American dream is a must-read. "(July 21) -- Publishers Weekly, starred review" Advance Praise for THE SNAKEHEAD "Patrick Radden Keefe has written a vivid non fiction thriller. The Snakehead reads like a Chinese-American version of The Sopranos, except that the mob boss is a grandmother who runs a human smuggling enterprise, and the story is true."--Jane Mayer, author of The Dark Side "In The Snakehead, Patrick Radden Keefe recreates an absorbing portraitof a 1993 shipwreck to illuminate the methods used by Chinese racketeers to smuggle illegal immigrants into the United States. At the same time, in an artful twist, Keefe leaves the reader pondering the whole process of immigration."--Jonathan Spence, author of The Search for Modern China "The Snakehead is a brilliant tour de force, both a gripping true-crime saga, full of intrigue and suspense, and a chilling exposure of the dark

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