• After the Last Border

  • Two Families and the Story of Refuge in America
  • By: Jessica Goudeau
  • Narrated by: Soneela Nankani
  • Length: 13 hrs and 21 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (75 ratings)

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After the Last Border  By  cover art

After the Last Border

By: Jessica Goudeau
Narrated by: Soneela Nankani
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Publisher's Summary

"Simply brilliant, both in its granular storytelling and its enormous compassion" (The New York Times Book Review)

The story of two refugee families and their hope and resilience as they fight to survive and belong in America

The welcoming and acceptance of immigrants and refugees have been central to America's identity for centuries - yet America has periodically turned its back in times of the greatest humanitarian need. After the Last Border is an intimate look at the lives of two women as they struggle for the 21st-century American dream, having won the "golden ticket" to settle as refugees in Austin, Texas.

Mu Naw, a Christian from Myanmar struggling to put down roots with her family, was accepted after decades in a refugee camp at a time when America was at its most open to displaced families; and Hasna, a Muslim from Syria, agrees to relocate as a last resort for the safety of her family - only to be cruelly separated from her children by a sudden ban on refugees from Muslim countries. Writer and activist Jessica Goudeau tracks the human impacts of America's ever-shifting refugee policy as both women narrowly escape from their home countries and begin the arduous but lifesaving process of resettling in Austin - a city that would show them the best and worst of what America has to offer.

After the Last Border situates a dramatic, character-driven story within a larger history - the evolution of modern refugee resettlement in the United States, beginning with World War II and ending with current closed-door policies - revealing not just how America's changing attitudes toward refugees have influenced policies and laws but also the profound effect on human lives.

©2020 Jessica Goudeau (P)2020 Penguin Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

“Jessica Goudeau's reporting and storytelling in After the Last Border are extraordinary, giving her the abilities to grab ahold of the reader and make them see connections between policies and people. This is nonfiction that reads as dramatic and grand as the best fiction. You cannot read this book and remain unchanged.” (Pamela Colloff, New York Times Magazine staff writer and ProPublica senior reporter)

"A richly detailed account of the resettlement experiences of two women granted refugee status in the US ... Her excellent interview skills and obvious empathy for her subjects make the family portraits utterly engrossing, and the history sections provide essential context. This moving and insightful dual portrait makes an impassioned case for humane immigration and refugee policy.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

“It's obvious that Goudeau was able to gain the two women's trust...their histories emerge through alternating chapters broken up by excerpts that provide social and political background about American refugee resettlement from the 19th century to the present day. These profiles are sympathetic and ultimately profoundly moving.” (Booklist)

What listeners say about After the Last Border

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Great Content. Odd Structure.

Really good content and so interesting to learn about the lives of these resilient women. Important for understanding the plight of refugees and immigrants to the U.S. and how policy can upend their lives. It's a time-tested story, yet it's current and fascinating how each woman attacks her new life. My 4 stars are because while I loved the stories of the women, I didn't enjoy the back and forth between the stories and the policy chapters. As a listener vs. a reader, I would have appreciated the book in three parts. I also finally listened to it at 1.2X. I wanted to know more, sooner and the narration got a bit tedious (for me).

1 person found this helpful

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  • 10-08-22

Thankful I Listened

This is worth the listen to. It was well read, and the stories were worth hearing. It brought me to tears more than once and allowed me a glimpse into these two women’s lives and struggles, which hopefully gave me a greater empathy for all refugees.

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A Must read….for we US citizens haven’t a clue:(

After the Last Border is a must read from High school level onward….
My eyes have been opened to the immigration policies that I knew were broken but how broken has shattered my heart. I feel ashamed about the way we have treated immigrants who are just looking for peace in their lives.
My plan moving forward is to reach out and volunteer at a local immigration center.
Thank you!

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Top ten book… no doubt

Seriously one of the best non-fiction books i’ve ever read and very crazy to think this was this authors first book

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Moving and Educational

This is a well-written telling of the story of two families who had to go through the horrible experience of civil war. It provides a very personal feel to the pain and dislocation that drive people to leave their home countries and become refugees. The characters are well defined and, as such, evoked empathy in me the reader/listener. Because of the timing of the author's relationships with the two women, the focus on the build-up to the final decision to seek asylum was much more on the Syrian situation. This was very helpful to me as I happened to be reading "How Civil Wars Start" by Barbara F. Walters at that same time. Her telling of the story of Mu Naw was more focused on her experiences in her struggling through her early years as a refugee and her achieving the "American dream". Her story evoked hope, something we need in the midst of the turmoil going on in the world today.

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Moving

I highly recommend to read or listen to this book. The back and forth between the experiences of Mu Naw and Hasna is well done and written. This book really highlights the importance of how one treats others.

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fantastic

A beautifully raw, real, journey into these strong women's world and journeys as refugees. It was a privilege to enter into their stories. Highly recommended.

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An incredible book that everyone should read

Everyone in this country should read this book. This country was established and built by immigrants including refugees. Being American means we uphold certain values, including helping refugees. People forget that even if they themselves may have been born in this country, many many years ago, many of their ancestors came here as refugees. This administration’s atrocious policy and rhetoric toward refugees betrayed the value of true Americans. More stories like what this book tells should be told. Public should be educated and informed. It was difficult to read this book because of all the tragedies and traumas it describes. I almost gave up reading it because of the pain I could feel for people who suffered in the stories. But I am glad I finally finished it. So grateful for the writer of this book and for the two plus heroines portrayed in this book.

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Beautiful stories of bravery, love, and perseverance.

Jessica Goudeau uses her brilliant mind and compassionate heart to listen intently to the stories of two families. Their journeys reveal the best qualities humankind has to offer while struggling against the evil forces conjured against them. By entering the lives of these beautiful people, the reader will be able to recognize the rhetoric of hate and xenophobia for what it is and be inspired to seek leadership that values the human dignity among the world’s most vulnerable populations.