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Exorcising Terror: The Incredible Unending Trial of Augusto Pinochet Ariel Dorfman Seven Stories Press Seven Stories P edition

30th April 2011 History Books 20 Comments

Acclaimed Chilean novelist Dorfman (Blake’s Therapy, etc.) offers a work slim but dense with emotion. The author follows the appeals, victories and defeats involved in Spain’s, and then Chile’s own, attempts to try Augusto Pinochet for crimes he committed as president of Chile in the 1970s and ’80s. The tale begins when Dorfman, about to board a plane for San Francisco, first hears the news of Pinochet’s detention by Scotland Yard and of Spain’s call for extradition to try him for crimes against humanity. As Dorfman follows the case (listening by radio, watching live Webcasts and even sitting in the audience of the House of Lords) and leads readers through appeal after appeal, he dives deep into the history of Pinochet’s ascension in 1973 and provides heartbreaking and horrific accounts of torture and murders committed by Pinochet’s men under his command. All the while, with a philosophical scalpel, the author cuts away at the question, How did Pinochet come to be? How did he move from the man who, before the coup, was “servile and fawning,” to the man who called for the torture and murder of people who had counted him a good friend? Though the question is never fully answered in the end, and Pinochet is not tried by either Spain or Chile (for reasons of mental incapacity), the book finishes on a positive note, citing the Serbian uprising against Milosevic as influenced by the Pinochet episode. All in all, this is an excellent, quick and powerful read, accessible to everyone.
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Born in Buenos Aires in 1942, ARIEL DORFMAN is a Chilean citizen. A supporter of Salvador Allende, he was forced into exile and has lived in the United States for many years. His works include Death and the Maiden, which has been produced in over one hundred countries and made into a film by Roman Polanski, as well as numerous other works of fiction and nonfiction. Dorfman has won many international awards, including the Sudamericana Award, the Laurence Olivier and two from the Kennedy Center. He is distinguished professor at Duke University and lives in Durham, North Carolina.

Renowned author Ariel Dorfman, obsessed for twenty-five years with the malignant shadow General Pinochet cast upon Chile and the world, followed every twist and turn of the four year old trial in Great Britain, Spain and Chile as well as in the U.S., the country that had created Pinochet. Told as a suspense thriller, filled with court-room drama and sudden reversals of fortune, the book at the same time addresses some of today’s most burning issues, made all the more urgent after the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001. What are the limits of national sovereignty in a globalizing world? How does an ever more interconnected world judge crimes committed against humanity? What role do memory and pain and the rights of the survivors play in this struggle for a new system of justice? But above all, the author, by listening carefully to the voices of Pinochet’s many victims, explores how can we purge ourselves of terror and fear once we have been traumatized, and asks if we can build peace and reconciliation without facing a turbulent and perverse past.

Exorcising Terror: The Incredible Unending Trial of Augusto Pinochet

Child Of The Dark: The Diary Of Carolina Maria De Jesus

A rarely matched essay on the meaning and feeling of hunger, degradation, and want. (The New York Times Book Review)

The 50th anniversary edition of a powerful diary documenting the plight of the poor

Carolina Maria de Jesus wrote her diary on scraps of paper each day while she scavenged through the squalid slums of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and tried to feed her three young children. Her account of daily life stunned the world with its honesty and its simple, moving artistry.

Child Of The Dark: The Diary Of Carolina Maria De Jesus (50th Anniversary Edition)

  • 20 responses to "Exorcising Terror: The Incredible Unending Trial of Augusto Pinochet Ariel Dorfman Seven Stories Press Seven Stories P edition"

  • clomid pcos
    11:24 on April 29th, 2011
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    I read Carolina. This is a book about her real life, touching because personal, much more real than writers that only do demagogy, like Machado de Assis and Jorge Amado.

  • Markoc
    13:52 on April 29th, 2011
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    This book is basic to understand from a personal perspective how the chilean people suffered under this animal regime. It shows how all bullies, those who get theirs kicks hurting other human beings become pathetic cowards when they are asked to pay for their acts.

  • oldschool
    22:04 on April 29th, 2011
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    Child Of The Dark: The Diary Of Carolina Maria De Jesus (50th Anniversary Edition)

    I read Child of the Dark about 30 years ago. It is blunt, vivid and, on some level, inspirational. Yet I was struck by the author’s lack of insight and utter disinterest in how wealth actually gets created. She was a doctrinaire redistributionist. This imposes as big an obstacle to understanding poverty as it does to understanding wealth, and she does not overcome the obstacle in either case. She is a meticulous observer of the outcomes of poverty, but a stubborn ignoramus as to its causes. After her Diary became a best-seller, and she made a pile of money from it, the adored celebrity author didn’t take long to run through her new riches and return to the squalor from which she had temporarily emerged. This is discouraging to instinctive philanthropists who believe that if we were just compassionate enough, we could flood our neighbors with “resources” until they float up and away from their poverty. The culture of poverty is nothing to admire or glamorize; it is the most tenacious and merciless enemy of the poor. This is even clearer in the U.S., where we have lavished the poor with untold billions of dollars in redistributed income, only to see it fuel their most self-destructive impulses.

  • nedendir
    23:30 on April 29th, 2011
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    The dairy of Carolina Maria de Jesus described the daily routine life in a favela- a human garbage dump, house of the poor, the hungry, the desperate. The author illustrated the way daily life threatened these poor favelados.The hunger that invaded every shack, particularly hers, drove her to hunt for paper and metal in order to acquire just enough money to keep her and her children alive. The black population in Brazil was treated as none human beings. They were descriminated against by most of the white majority population. It clearly reflects the title of the book ” Child of the dark.”

  • Dagmar Naguin
    9:50 on April 30th, 2011
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    This book is both an uplifting and depressing work. For anyone who has ever visited the third world, and especially for those that never have; this book is a must read. It is uplifting and inspiring in showing the heroine’s sheer strength of character that gets her through a life that would most certainly kill most of us. Written without pretense, it is a brutal indictment of the negative forces that constantly try the human spirtit. Here the enemy is not one person, or an army or even the poverty that wreaks havoc on the lives of these people, but rather the world’s tolerance and acceptance of the pain, hunger suffering and injustices that are created by a world where the the rich can justify their greed by demoninzing their own creation: the conditons that make people live in utter desperation. Poverty and ignorance are not romantized here but instead like in Buñuel’s film Los Olvidados, Child of the Dark shows us that hunger and loss of dignity brings out the worst in people. It is depressing because we all know that places like this exist not only in Brazil, but in almost all countries on earth, and that we all share in the guilt of allowing such horror to exist.

  • Seano
    14:46 on April 30th, 2011
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    One should keep in mind that this is a personal and political view of the Pinochet case. The book is good in the fact that it is a personal account of a man who had friends who are among the disapeared of Chile. If you are interested in a personal account than by this book, however if you are interested in an acccount of Pinochet policies by a book exclusivly about his regime.

  • pop frame
    17:37 on April 30th, 2011
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    Life is hard, but this used to be more than a saying to someone like Ms. Jesus. No one but Carolina could better express how it feels to pull up from these shadows to find a brand new world out of discarded notebooks. All her life was made on the debris of a discarded society, conveniently far from the Living Room – as she used to call the upper class neighborhoods in her aodptive city of S?o Paulo. Beautiful living room with a long suffered scrap paper patio and city dump. Rubble and trash made into pure poetry, by a semi-illiterate Brazilian writer. Life is hard, but still it works miracles. Read without remorse. And without prejudice.

  • Markoc
    20:05 on April 30th, 2011
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    I was extremely worried that this book was going to be boring or hard to read. It was actually quite understandable and enjoyable if you like first hand accounts of other peoples trials. I had purchased this book for a class but afterward I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to expand their knowledge of inner-city living.

  • The Dealer
    3:11 on May 1st, 2011
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    Loved this little book, it’s the story of this single mom living in the slums of Brazil. It’s sad but I like that this woman keeps going and tries not to let herself get pulled down by the others in her neighborhood.

  • eliteuser
    9:12 on May 1st, 2011
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    The autobiographies of poor people from places far from the middle class worlds of rich countries never used to appear in book stores. It was indeed rare that such lives, however interesting, difficult, inspiring or depressing would ever show up on the shelves. But such is the modern world that nowadays we do get occasional chances to glimpse other lives, hear other voices. In “From the Land of Green Ghosts” we could read of the life of a member of the Padaung tribe in Burma; in “Notes from the Hyena’s Belly”, we read about a small town Ethiopian. Both these men were not poor in their own societies, but went through the traumas of war and revolution before escaping to the calmer West. The adventures of Tete-Michel Kpomassie, a Togolese villager who made it all the way to Greenland, provide another type of narrative. CHILD OF THE DARK, a book written by a Brazilian woman from the very bottom of society, is yet another kind of these rare narrations, and moreover, was one of the first to appear. Carolina Maria de Jesus, a black mother of three with a second grade education, abandoned by all the men in her life, raised her kids in one of the worst slums of Sao Paulo. She picked trash and paper to sell to junk dealers, cadged bones from a slaughterhouse to make soup, collected squashed tomatoes from behind a cannery, and scavenged thrown away food items from the garbage of richer streets. Writing a diary every day helped her to persevere through years of hardship, to escape for a few moments, her hunger, misery, and constant worry. Through a chance encounter with a journalist, her diary was eventually published and she became a celebrity in Brazil back in the early 1960s. She left her hand-to-mouth existence and moved out of the favela forever. Her book is the only one of its kind from that time. [She had a hard time coping with her new life, though, and died in poverty in 1977.]

    It’s not all sweetness and light, not all a goody goody, morally uplifting Cinderella tale. She sometimes beat her kids, she slept with various suitors, abused “substances”, and reported to the police on her neighbors (not that they didn’t deserve it). She also has bad things to say about Portuguese, gypsies, and Jews. But OK, most all this is a story of human survival. De Jesus eked out a meagre living amidst squalor and constant quarreling, drunkenness and the sexual antics of the poorest members of Brazilian society, yet she bore up, kept writing, and made many observations about the society that produced such misery, the politicians who came around to ask for votes and then never appeared again. Brazil has no doubt changed in the last half century, but I believe this most human life story is still extremely relevant, both for Brazil and the rest of the world. How many Carolinas is it going to take ?

  • Analyzethis
    20:40 on May 1st, 2011
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    this book is very moving and interesting; yet it is written too much on a younger level a lot of the verbs don’t match; there are tons of errors; nevertheless, it still is compelling

  • PaulTheZombie
    21:48 on May 1st, 2011
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    This book takes place in the late 1950′s in the slums (called favela’s) in Brazil. The book is actually the diary of Carolina Maria De Jesus who is a poor woman with 3 children all with different fathers. She lives in a shack and sells scrap paper, tin cans, and rags to feed herself & her children. The struggle just to eat and have clean water every day is enormous and it’s just so shocking that all these people live like that. Her fight for survival is inspiring. Carolina only went to school through the second grade but she writes really, really well. Her diary ends up getting published (obviously!) and she gets out of the favela for good. They show pictures in the book of her moving out but her diary ends without mentioning it. If you like this book & want to know what happens to Carolina & her family after she moves out of the favela you’ll have to read the second one, “I’m Going To Have a Little House”.

  • Jolynn Ordona
    2:15 on May 2nd, 2011
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    Just an outstanding account of real life in Rio de Janeiro. Carolina is a true heroine in her own right. She goes against the social standards and works to support her children by herself. It is a great book about the trials of the human heart-and Carolina certainly triumphs over them.

  • Juana Cruz
    5:35 on May 2nd, 2011
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    This book is truly an eye opener as to what it really means to be poor and hungry. I can’t believe that someone with only two years of schooling could churn out such a masterpiece, the language and thought processes involved will leave you wondering with amazement. What suprises you is that in and amongst all the squalor, deprivation, fights and hunger she still admires the night sky, the birds, the stars, the beautiful weather. What a woman ! Most people in her position wouldn’t have time to be thankful for these “free” beautiful things and that is what I found so touching. Her dedication to her children and indeed her neighbours will teach all us other mortals in the devleoped world what being humble really means. At times this woman cannot find a meal but when she has money and food she shares it with her friends and neighbours, wondering little if she will have a meal the next day. Her ability to keep going despite her adversities will shock you. Please read this book, you will aspire to be a better person afterwards.

  • Jim Levitt
    11:21 on May 2nd, 2011
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    This book is great in the respect that it captures the experiences of someone living in extreme poverty and how she deals with the daily struggle of survival.

  • Lisa Llano
    21:35 on May 2nd, 2011
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    Caroline Maria de Jusus was born a[...] in poverty and went to only the second grade. She lived most of her adult life in poverty and her children were labeled [...]. She wanted to write and did. She became a writer of international reputation. Her book has been read by people around the world and in the United States. Her work stands with that of Victor Frankl in “MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING,” and “BLACK ELK SPEAKS” an American Sioux, and with Frederick Douglass’ NARRATIVE LIFE.

    CHILD OF THE DARK, is a must read for anyone who wants to understand and to challenge the values and standards of a civilization (ours) that degrades human life for fun and profit.

  • Dagmar Naguin
    7:55 on May 3rd, 2011
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    This book is raw and angry, but a satisfying read nonetheless. Poverty, murder, fights and most of all hunger are the main themes in this book. But what keeps you interested is her wonderfull insights on life and her overwhelming love for her children. Toward the end it starts to lag, after all, it is a diary that was not meant for publication. The characters are scattered and it’s a bit repetitive, but the important thing is she takes you into her world. That, in my mind, is the gift of a talented author

  • PaulTheZombie
    9:04 on May 3rd, 2011
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    Although Dorfman’s views of the years of dictatorship are driven as much by emotion and opposition as they are by fact, his book about the Pinochet regime and the subsequent human rights trial serves as an interesting document to the chilean experience of dictatorship.
    The true extent of the horrors that occured in Chile may never be fully known but Dorfman’s book about his experience of the dictatorship and his emotions as a Chilean is an essential document to the Chilean healing process.

    Some of the passages are extremely well written and the end of the book in particular raises some intersting questions.
    There are without question finer books concerning the period, but this is the most emotional work available and Dorfman’s lament for Chile is at times very powerful.

  • Ripel
    10:57 on May 3rd, 2011
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    This is essential reading for anyone wanting to comprehend the crimes of Pinochet and the complicity of the United States government. As is always the case with Dorfman’s books, it is beautifully written.

  • jorge robert
    18:00 on May 3rd, 2011
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    the daily diary of the Carolina De Jesus describes a daily hard life of a woman, who picked up paper and metal everyday just to get enough money to feed her children. Also, in her diary she describes the horrible realatioship of the government to the people of the lower class.. The hunger and poorness of these people clearly illustrates in this book. The contest of these book clearly reflevt it’s title, “Child of The Dark.”

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