Charles Bowden was born in Joliet, Illinois on July 20, 1945. He received an undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona and a master's degree in American intellectual history from the University of Wisconsin. He completed work toward his doctorate there but walked out while defending his dissertation, because he was frustrated with what he felt were uninformed questions from his review committee. He was a reporter for The Tucson Citizen in the early 1980s. He wrote several books during his lifetime including Down by the River: Drugs, Money, Murder and Family, Juï¿½rez: The Laboratory of Our Future, A Shadow in the City: Confessions of an Undercover Drug Warrior, Murder City: Ciudad Juï¿½rez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields, and Blood Orchid: An Unnatural History of America. He died on August 30, 2014 at the age of 69.