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Changing Venezuela by Taking Power: The History and Policies of the Chavez Government Americas South America Venezuela Gregory Wilpert Verso 1 edition


11th July 2013 History Books 21 Comments

This fascinating studydeeply informed, penetrating in its analysis, comprehensive in scopeexplores the historical and socioeconomic roots of the Venezuelan initiatives of recent years, the conflicts they have engendered, the achievements and pitfalls, the animating ideals of a genuinely participatory society, and the prospects for realizing them in ways that, if successful, might have significant impact not only for Latin America but well beyond. (Noam Chomsky )

Greg Wilpert knows Venezuela intimately and gives us the most thorough and objective analysis of the Chavez government’s policies we are likely to find. A thoughtful and useful book for the 21st century and, let us hope, beyond. (Susan George )

Gregory Wilpert’s book combines academic insight with perspectives gained from living in Venezuela through the tumultuous years of the Chavez administration. His book offers the best general introduction to the complex politics of a country and a leader making a profound impact on global politics at the dawn of this new century. (Daniel Hellinger )

Gregory Wilpert is a sociologist, freelance journalist, and a former US Fulbright Scholar in Venezuela.

This acclaimed history of Chvez’s Venezuela argues that it could be a model for peaceful revolution.

Since coming to power in 1998, the Chavez government has inspired both fierce internal debate and horror amongst Western governments accustomed to counting on an obeisant regime in the oil-rich state. In this rich and resourceful study, Greg Wilpert exposes the self-serving logic behind much middle-class opposition to Venezuela’s elected leader, and explains the real reason for their alarm. He argues that the Chavez government has instituted one of the world’s most progressive constitutions, but warns that they have yet to overcome the dangerous specters of the country’s past.

This fascinating studydeeply informed, penetrating in its analysis, comprehensive in scopeexplores the historical and socioeconomic roots of the Venezuelan initiatives of recent years, the conflicts they have engendered, the achievements and pitfalls, the animating ideals of a genuinely participatory society, and the prospects for realizing them in ways that, if successful, might have significant impact not only for Latin America but well beyond.

Greg Wilpert knows Venezuela intimately and gives us the most thorough and objective analysis of the Chavez government’s policies we are likely to find. A thoughtful and useful book for the 21st century and, let us hope, beyond.

Gregory Wilpert’s book combines academic insight with perspectives gained from living in Venezuela through the tumultuous years of the Chavez administration. His book offers the best general introduction to the complex politics of a country and a leader making a profound impact on global politics at the dawn of this new century.

Changing Venezuela by Taking Power: The History and Policies of the Chavez Government

Silence on the Mountain: Stories of Terror, Betrayal, and Forgetting in Guatemala

Written in the vein of a Robert Kaplan travel journal, this profound book traces the history of Guatemala’s 36-year internal struggle through personal interviews that recount the heart-wrenching stories of plantation owners, army officials, guerrillas and the wretchedly poor peasants stuck in the middle. Wilkinson’s narrative unfolds gradually, beginning with his quest to unlock the mysteries of the short-lived 1952 Law of Agrarian Reform, which saw the redistribution of land to the working class. He goes on to explain many of the causes and consequences of the country’s political and social problems. At one point, Wilkinson vividly describes how the entire town of Sacuchum uncharacteristically gathered to recount for him and thus record for the outside world how the army raped, tortured and massacred members of the community because they were believed to have supported the guerrillas. Much of what’s revealed in Wilkinson’s account of the country’s trials is hard to stomach, especially his description of CIA involvement in Guatemala. In many instances, Wilkinson’s personal story gets in the way of the larger account he is trying to tell, and the book becomes more about him (he was just out of college in 1993, when he made the trip) than about events in Guatemala. However, this book is both easy to read and compelling, and Wilkinson’s little self-indulgences are easily forgivable given the powerful subject matter and how well it is told by Wilkinson, now a lawyer with Human Rights Watch. B&w photos.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

new in paperback
Silence on the Mountain is a virtuoso work of reporting and a masterfully plotted narrative tracing the history of Guatemala’s thirty-six-year internal war, a conflict that claimed the lives of some 200,000 people, the vast majority of whom died at the hands of the U.S.-backed military government. Written by Daniel Wilkinson, a young human rights worker, the story begins in 1993, when the author decides to investigate the arson of a coffee plantation’s manor house by a band of guerrillas. The questions surrounding this incident soon broaden into a complex mystery whose solution requires Wilkinson to dig up the largely unwritten history of the country’s recent civil war, following its roots back to a land reform movement that was derailed by a U.S.-sponsored military coup in 1954 and to the origins of a plantation system that put Guatemala’s Mayan Indians to work picking coffee beans for the American and European markets.

Decades of terror-inspired fear have led the Guatemalans to adopt a survival strategy of silence so complete it verges on collective amnesia. The author’s great triumph is that he finds a way for people to tell their stories, and it is through these stories—dramatic, intimate, heartbreaking—that we are shown the anatomy of a thwarted revolution that has relevance not only to Guatemala but also to countless places around the world where terror has been used as a political tool.

Silence on the Mountain: Stories of Terror, Betrayal, and Forgetting in Guatemala (American Encounters/Global Interactions)










  • 21 responses to "Changing Venezuela by Taking Power: The History and Policies of the Chavez Government Americas South America Venezuela Gregory Wilpert Verso 1 edition"

  • Riverken
    1:13 on July 11th, 2013
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    If you want to read one book on Venezuela read this one. Greg Wilpert gives the reader an in-depth view of the economic, social and political changes occurring in Venezuela. As indicated by his very informative title, Changing Venezuela by Taking Power, Wilpert shows how Chavez’s election in 1998 has led to 1: the growth of social programs that benefit the popular classes, and 2: the growth of popular power, e.g. communal councils. Through the growth of communal councils, participatory budgeting, etc., Venezuelans at the grass roots and community level are increasing determining how their communities are run, where government money goes, and what kind of society the majority want. Wilpert shows that although there are some real problems in Venezuela, , Venezuela is today more democratic than it was when Chavez was elected and most people are better off economically.
    I recommend this book very highly. I just returned from 10 weeks in Venezuela and had read many books about Venezuela before visiting This book by Greg Wilpert helped me more than any other one in understanding the current politics and economics of Venezuela. It is an important counter to what much of our mass media is telling us.

  • galtramus
    2:09 on July 11th, 2013
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    I agree with the other reviewer who suggested that US citizens have a responsibility to read this book, since the US is responsible for much of the suffering that’s been going on in Guatemala – and other parts of Latin America. Fortunately, there are civic groups like the School of the Americas Watch ([...])that are providing assistance to the victims of our violence.
    I worked with an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala and the story he told of his village being destroyed was heart-breaking. I’m always glad to discover authors like Daniel Wilkinson who are sharing the sort of information that our establishment media marginalizes. Information that people like us can disseminate in our own grassroot networks.
    Along with Wilkinson’s book, I’d recommend the DVD “When the Mountains Tremble,” which features Rigoberta Menchu – who, predictably, has been smeared by defenders of our military establishment and self-serving myths that go with it. Additionally, I recently bought “Guatemala: Never Again!” to honor Bishop Juan Gerardi, who was murdered a couple days after he turned in the manuscript.

    Some may be interested to know that the song “The Flowers of Guatemala” by R.E.M. is about US foreign policy in Central America. Lead singer Michael Stipe mentions his intent during an interview in the progressive Christian magazine “Sojourners.”

  • Debra Proctor
    5:43 on July 11th, 2013
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    This book unlike any other book written on the Hugo Chavez governments policies went into a great detail on how well the Chavez government has been performing in its attempts to ride the country of judicial corruption, reform land distribution, building cooperatives, spending of social security for Venezuela’s poor. It is not only a book filled with rhetoric for left wing writers but had concrete facts and figures about the Chavez revolution. I would throughly recommend this book, if you were trying to research the effects of the Chavez governments economic and social policies.

  • christ
    6:21 on July 11th, 2013
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    The author, who for several years has been running the excellent web page, http://www.venezuelanalysis.com, is one of the best specialists in Venezuela today. He with his wife Carol Delgado (whom he credits in the acknowledgements as being in effect a co-author) have compiled the most insightful book about the changes that Venezuela has undergone at every level.

    He does not avoid the problems and shortcomings of the Bolivarian Revolution. His extensive work with integral thinker Ken Wilber deepens his analysis as he uncovers layer upon layer of governance and culture to understand the true reality of what is happening. The most comprehensive and well-written report on the social experiment that the whole world is watching. Invaluable.

  • Pamela Bunta
    11:27 on July 11th, 2013
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    SILENCE ON THE MOUNTAIN is one of the best books I’ve ever read about the effects of war and government terrorism on the people and culture of a country, as well as a first rate look at the history and reasons behind the conflict in Guatemala. What is most amazing is how Wilkinson was able to get so many people from both sides of the war to open up and tell him their stories. They are not always fun to hear but in the end you’ll be glad you did. Get this book NOW if you are at all interested in Latin America, globalization, or human rights.

  • JakeTheRake
    15:03 on July 11th, 2013
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    time and again i let myself be surprised by the atrocious acts committed or supported by my government. the hypocricy of the CIA and of US foreign policy in general is nothing new, but this book tells guatemala’s story from a very personal angle. the repressive practices of the post-50′s guatemalan government are shocking and important to understand in and of themselves, along with the US involvement in those practices. but what is most outstanding about this book is the human face wilkinson puts on the tragedy. in his travels on a harvard fellowship, he meets many of the major players in the drama, as well as the ordinary people who suffered from the violence. the result is a book not entirely sympathetic to the guerrilla fighters, not entirely condemning of the guatemalan government, but entirely focused on the outcomes of the civil war that are still being faced by the rural poor in the guatemalan highlands. we are responsible as us citizens — if we are us citizens, that is :) for understanding this story, since our government is largely responsible for supporting the violence over so many decades.

    also, this is an amazing read. it’s intelligent, funny, well-written all around. it’s not entirely chronological, but more like a travel journal-cum-historical flashbacks. i read it in preparation for a trip to guatemala, and am so glad that i did. everyone should read this book.

  • If I know
    17:14 on July 11th, 2013
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    Gregory Wilpert has written an interesting book about the “Bolivarian Revolution” in Venezuela. Unlike most of the recent books about Venezuela, this book deals very little with Hugo Chavez and more with statistics and legal issues. The problem is however, that despite what is written in the constitution, Chavez does what he likes. The entire federal government is under his control and never does anything to reprimand him or limit his power. As Wilpert wrote in the beggining of the book, the “Bolivarian” Constitution is the same as that of the Soviet Union. It looks great on paper, yet in reality little of the constitutional guarantees have been delivered to the masses. Wilpert indicates that creation of public housing has been so inept, that the slums of Venezuela have been accepted rather condemned. He illustrates time and time again that the Chavez government has failed to accomplish much at all in improving the lives of the Venezuelan people. When he discusses Venezuela’s horrible GINI coefficient, he does not say what is was in 2007, when the book was written, as Even after 8 years of the “revolution”, Venezuela is still as unequal as it was in 1999, when Chavez assumed office.

    While far more critical of the government than other books on the “revolution”, Wilpert left out one critical piece of information. He fails to mention anything about the deterioration of security in Venezuela. He discusses troops on the border, but fails to mention the marked increase in murders and kidnappings throughout the country. This would indicate that police corruption has gotten worse since 1999 and that the rule of law has also been severely weakended. Judging by Chavez’s speeches and his sponsor of two violent coupt attempts in 1992, it is no wonder that outlaws have looked to him as a hero and thus have increased their activities without fear of punishment, much less arrest. He mentions that clientalism may continue to be a problem in Venezuelan society, when it most certainly has increased since 1999. Chavez demands a sycophantic media and requieres all federal employees (3 million people) to vote for him if they desire to continue in their present positions. By taking full control of the military, PDVSA, the media (almost) and various companies, Chavez has been buying votes. He hands out cheap populist perks to the peasants in order to garner their support, which in combination of forcing federal employees to vote for him, guarantees that he will never lose an election.

    His final sector is a theory of how a utopian society could be achieved. This section is quite strange and seems to have little basis in reality. Venezuela is very far from theses theoretical examples, because it has a very strong central government that controls oil revenues and distributes them how they see fit.

    In conclusion, Wilpert has written a scholarly work. He desperatly wants the “revolution” to succeed, yet at the same time he essentially concludes that the after eight years, Venezuelan society has hardly changed at all.

  • Erik Mccomber
    20:10 on July 11th, 2013
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    Before travelling through Guatemala in 2002 I’d read a couple books, including Benz’s Guatemalan Journey. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until a year later that I found Silence on the Mountain. It’s the kind of book that makes a place come alive. Well written, thrilling and engrossing, it’s the book I wish I’d read before travelling through Guatemala.

  • Bhagen
    23:20 on July 11th, 2013
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    Daniel Wilkinson’s Silence on the Mountain is easily one of the best nonfiction titles I’ve ever read. I am a big fan of first person journalism — books like God of the Rodeo (Angola prison rodeo) and We Regret to Inform You We are About to Be Killed with our families (Rwanda) — and this book is among the best of the genre. Wilkinson’s account reads like a novel — he effectively reveals a history that I’m a little ashamed to have known nothing about. It’s interesting both as history, but also as memoir — he does a good job of relating his own story (why he went to Guatemala, how he got interested in the project) but doesn’t let his own story overwhelm the history he wants to recount. I highly recommend this good, quick, informative, read. It’s made me want to learn more about Guatemalan history.

  • I know
    0:37 on July 12th, 2013
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    This is a textbook of the history of Guatemala during the 60′s through the 80′s of a specific geographical area that probably applied to the whole country. Fear is the overriding force that each citizen of Guatemala lived with during these times. Over 200,000 people (not the military) were killed … the supporters of the army and/or guerilla side.

    You learn of what happens when a dictator is the ruler of a country and/or the military has all the political control of a country. It is horrible and upsetting.

    This book will help you appreciate the U.S.A. with all of it’s flaws. Thank God I was born in the United States of America.

  • Henry K.
    6:38 on July 12th, 2013
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    Good work for Mr Wilkinson.For some time i was looking for a book on the Guatemalan civil war and this was definetly a good start.Mr Wilkinson goes deep into the Guatemalan jungle to talk to people,soldiers and politicians that were involved in this terrible war.The way he explains the importance of the events is very good and he also describes the involvement of the United States which is not a good one. I specially enjoyed Mr Wilkinson’s conclusion in which he explains the ramifications of recent political upheavals in Guatemala where a lot of people are not afraid anymore of expresing themselves and how minorities like indians are getting some of their land back.The only problem that i had with this book is that Mr Wilkinson is too “slow” in his account.He spends way to many pages describing situations and personal experiences that have no relations with the topic of the book whatsoever.For example, he describes how some chickens eat what’s on the floor, he describes an accident he had in his motorcycle and he even describes an encounter with a “witch”. For me this was just pages in which i just wanted to finish reading so i could get to the important stuff.BUt again its a good book.

  • kabusturkey
    9:35 on July 12th, 2013
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    Gregory Wilpert, a freelance writer based in Venezuela’s capital Caracas, has written a very useful study of the history and policies of the Chavez government in Venezuela. He examines its governance policy, economic policy, social policy and foreign policy. He looks at the opportunities, obstacles and prospects facing the Venezuelan people, and explores Chavez’s ideas of 21st-century socialism.

    In 1998, the people elected Hugo Chavez President, with 56.2 per cent of the votes. In the 2004 recall referendum, he won 58 per cent of the votes and in the 2006 election, 62.9 per cent.

    Wilpert notes that the previous ruling class’s counter-revolutionary acts against the Chavez government have each radicalised the government. He also notes that between 2001 and 2005, the US state sent $27 million to opposition groups.

    The government is promoting micro-credits, cooperatives, worker co-management, efforts to achieve self-sufficiency in food production, and skills training and logistical support to help people to start coops and social enterprises. Its social programmes have cut poverty from 44 percent to 38 per cent.

    Wilpert shows how the Chavez government is trying to move from representative democracy to a more participatory democracy.

    This is an excellent introduction to the history and policies of the Chavez government, joining Eva Golinger’s The Chavez code, and Bart Jones’ Hugo! The Hugo Chavez story: from mud hut to perpetual revolution.

  • ugly wife
    10:34 on July 12th, 2013
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    For anyone interested in learning about Guatemala, the Land of Eternal Spring , and the horrors and intricacies of the 36 year Civil War and it’s aftermath, this is a must read. I found Wilkinson’s writing to be inviting, compelling and informative. It is one of the best books I have read about the country so dear to me.

  • eduzone
    14:19 on July 12th, 2013
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    As a Guatemalan well-versed in the sad and tawdry history of my homeland, it is refreshing to read an account of my country (by a foreigner, no less) that connected with me on so many levels. Whereas other reviewers were of the opinion that Wilkinson’s little asides were self-indulgent exercises that distracted from the main thrust of the book, I thought his anecdotes worked very well. I guess you have to be a Guatemalan familiar with its lingo, landscape, people and rural traditions to appreciate the texture Wilkinson brings to life in his meticulous retelling of the horrific events that transpired during the civil war.

    In fact, Wilkinson does his best work when constructing his anecdotes. My paternal grandparents labored on and raised their family in a coffee plantation not far from La Patria, the focus of Wilkinson’s account. My grandfather, I believe, was a plantation clerk. My father worked as his adjunct. When I was a child, I remember the excitement of visiting my grandparents in their small house on the plantation, going from the capital city where my parents had settled to “La Finca” in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Wilkinson’s description of the looming volcanoes, the crystalline air, the sharp pungency of moist soil, the rutted dirt tracks, the forbidding rainforests, the foaming streams, the torrential downpours, the “posadas”, the misty sunrises, the iridescent “cafetales” after dusk, the small market towns, the women in “trajes” of riotous colors, the Christmas “fiestas”, the trundling buses, the old clapboard houses with peeling paint, and countless other details flooded me with a nostalgia that no other book ostensibly about Guatemalan history and politics has been able to elicit.

    His descriptions of the people who inhabited these plantations were also spot on, with their “si pueses”, general timidity and superstitions (I beamed with delight when he noted the myth of “La Llorona”, for example, which no other book on Guatemalan history that I have read has ever done). In my mind’s eye I could hear and see Wilkinson’s conversations with plantation people, the cadences in their voices, their mannerisms. But what was especially noteworthy was Wilkinson’s description of their unnerving need for silence. What struck me, even as a little boy, when I went from the capital city to “La Finca” was how plantation people, including my grandparents and father, were so much more fearful of making noise than people in the city. Half the conversations I heard adults carry out in the plantation were in whispers, almost always like they were afraid others might overhear them, even if they were walking in plain daylight by themselves on some road, or deep within their own homes. As a child I ascribed this odd behavior to culture, but never to anything more nefarious than that. Then along comes Wilkinson’s book, which helps fill in so many gaps of my general knowledge about those long-gone days of my childhood. When I grew older I would ask my parents about these things–the whispering, the burned-out buildings hidden in a forest clearing just outside the plantation, the origins of my grandparents, who looked very Mayan in their physical features–but they generally clammed up or changed the subject, practicing their own version of the “saber” stonewalling that Wilkinson experienced at every turn during his early days of investigation.

    And whether or not he did this intentionally, Wilkinson also sneaks in among his descriptions some astute allusions to “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and “El Senor Presidente” by Miguel Angel Asturias. The inclusion of these literary homages made his book rise to another level above the more prosaic, plodding, social-science accounts of the Guatemalan terror with which I’m familiar.

    Another notable feature which I thoroughly appreciated was his detailed retelling of the formation of the guerrillas, and how they arose in the context of the plantations and the aborted land reforms of 1952. In most other histories of the civil war that I’ve read the focus is on the terror itself, with the army as a disembodied puppet-monster crushing defenseless indigenous peasants while controlled by an all-powerful self-interested European elite and the U.S. government. There was nary a description or analysis of the guerrillas themselves–who they were, what they sought to accomplish, and most importantly, how they sought to accomplish it and how close they came to accomplishing it. In this book I finally got a thorough analysis, and am shocked to find out that the guerrillas were much more powerful, had greater reach into the population and were closer to triggering a revolution than any other account I have read. And I might as well have been this misinformed because for the Guatemalan government acknowledging how close it came to collapse was (and still is) not in its best interest, and for the leftist intellectuals who wrote the previous accounts I’ve read, it works better to elicit sympathy from outsiders if the peasants come off as completely helpless victims of U.S. imperalism rather than people with real agency and real fighting capabilities who were trained in Cuba. This book also provided me with the first pictures of the guerrillas I had ever seen (the Guatemalan press and government did a thorough job of minimizing, whitewashing and blackballing the guerrilla threat, since it took me this long to finally learn the truth, and even to see what the guerrillas looked like).

    Wilkinson’s book also painted the army in a more three-dimensional manner–as a rag-tag bunch of soldier-amateurs who were trained in counter-insurgency by a rabidly and blindly anti-communist U.S. goverment. The influx of Cold War American money and training transformed the army into the most powerful autonomous institution in the country, separate, and at times scornful of, the European business and plantation elite. So, in this more realistic construct, it finally makes sense to me why the Guatemalan government and army had become so hideously repressive: the scorched-earth campaign killing masses of rural peasants was a (sadly effective) last gambit of a tottering regime desperate to see off the biggest existential threat it had faced in its history, while the European elite this regime served looked the other way, unconcerned and unsullied by war, politics, and massacres.

    If I could give this book 10 stars, I would. It has filled me with so many emotions, and has done such a thorough job providing answers to so many of the questions I had about my histories–personal, familial and national. Thank you Mr. Wilkinson for sticking your neck out, venturing into a strange and violent land, and coming out with this wonderful, heart-rending account of my tragic but beautiful homeland. It’s a must read for anyone, Guatemalan or not, who wants a comprehensively realistic and entertaining overview of the recent history of my country.

  • Sally Janssen
    16:29 on July 12th, 2013
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    Daniel Wilkinson’s “Silence on the Mountain: Stories of Terror, Betrayal, and Forgetting in Guatemala” is a balanced and well-written chronicle of State terror. The author dedicates many years, abandons law school and runs up credit card debt to research and write a glaring historical account of the struggle between large landowners and the poor in Guatemala.

    Wilkinson’s early focus is on the 1950 presidential victory of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán. He then explains the daring 1952 implementation of a far-reaching Agrarian Reform law called Degree 900. The author reaches out to Guatemalan students who favored the reforms and declared that peace, “required greater equality and greater equality required a redistribution of land in the countryside.”

    Wilkinson then flashes back to 1892 when twenty-three-year-old Friedrich Endler leaves Germany for Central America. Endler eventually becomes a large coffee plantation owner and it is through him the author explains the historical struggle with poor illiterate workers who provide the labor that builds a coffee nation.

    From there Wilkinson flash forwards to 1954 and the carefully choreographed CIA overthrow of democratically elected President Guzmán. Shortly thereafter agricultural students protested, “We who receive an education paid for by the people have a debt to the people! We who have the power to analyze have the responsibility to criticize! An agronomist should carry, in one hand, a machete…and, in the other, a machine gun.”

    The remainder of the book is a painstaking tale of documenting the State terror of the 1980′s when 200,000 Guatemalans perished. Quite frankly, parts of this book are brutal. Nevertheless, the author must be commended for risking his life and traveling to the interior and urging the poor to testify before the Guatemalan Truth Commission that officially investigated the atrocities of the armed forces.

    In conclusion, Daniel Wilkinson courageously points a finger at Washington for being so obsessed with the fear of insurgency that they rationalize away qualms and uneasiness. He even quotes an American embassy official who was uneasy with early military abuses and wrote in 1968, “the record must be made clearer that the Untied States Government opposes the concept and questions the wisdom of counter-terror; the record must be made clearer that we have made this known unambiguously to the Guatemalans; otherwise we will stand before history unable to answer the accusations that we encouraged the Guatemalan Army to do these things.” Unfortunately, no one in Washington was listening. This is a tier-one book…buy it.

    Bert Ruiz

  • Chris Alden
    23:43 on July 12th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    So you know that the civil war in Guatemala was between the military and the guerillas with, tragically, so many of Guatemala’s indigenous population caught in the middle. You might even know that lack of land and racist policy drove the war. But do you really know how it came to be and why?

    This is what this book will do for you. It will take you deep into the politics and events that led to the bloodshed that was most apparent during the 1980′s. It will reveal why Guatemala is still bleeding from this war. It will show you why so many Guatemalans are for the most part silent about what really went down during that war.

    Silence that spurred Daniel Wilkinson, a young Harvard graduate from the States, to hop on a ratty motorcycle and travel throughout the country interviewing countless numbers of people in a quest for the truth of what went on on the mountain, and why there has been silence there for so long. This book isn’t stuffy, it’s not authoritative. In fact, most of the time it is apparent that Wilkinson doesn’t know what he is doing half of the time he is in Guatemela. Which makes him very real as a person. You kind of travel along with him, it’s THAT good. Wilkinson doesn’t go for shock value in the retelling of his events. His is a firm, quiet truth and he tells his tale, his experience in this book, focusing on why getting to the truth is nearly as horrifying as the truth itself.

    Pick this one up for a better, deeper understanding of the civil war in Guatemala. As you read it in your comortable house your perception on life just might change. I know mine did.

  • BluRabbit
    3:51 on July 13th, 2013
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    The book was not organizeed chronologically based upon events as they occured, but rather organized according to the author’s travels. This makes the book difficult to follow with glimpses of various time periods revealed here and there. I finished the book feeling as though I hadn’t really gotten the full story.

  • Matt Whensit
    6:06 on July 13th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    This is a great book which covers many different aspects of the Chavez government, as well as giving some background into the country politics, before and during Chavez. It is a great book since it not only presents some facts, but also makes good analysis of the ongoing politics in Venezuela. This is a must for anyone who wants to know more on Venezuela and the Chavez politics.

  • ivango
    10:20 on July 13th, 2013
    Reply to comment

    It is difficult to explain the mixed emotions when you read something so horrible about the history of your own country. The only thing I can say is that guatemalans are hard workin’ people that faces the adversity with great courage. This is a book that digs the reality that Guatemala live during the years of the internal war, and how that lead to todays daily life in the country.

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