Books by Jennifer K. Harbury

Released: March 27, 1997

A disappointing memoir of love in a time of civil war. Harvard-educated attorney and first-time author Harbury made news a couple of years back for her public quest to locate her husband, a Guatemalan rebel who had been arrested by the military and then disappeared; that quest involved congressional hearings, a well-publicized hunger strike in Guatemala City, and something of a crusade on the part of Mike Wallace and the CBS news program 60 Minutes. Here Harbury recounts those events in a voice that uneasily shifts from an epistolary, second-person address to her husband, known by the nom de guerre Everardo, to first-person reportage. Her prose is often overwrought and flowery (``Did they drag you here dead in a burlap bag and bury you like a magnificent broken bird that they could never fully comprehend or value''), and Harbury seems unwilling to acknowledge that her husband was in fact a guerrilla soldier involved in a war, ``the commander of an entire region,'' not an innocent bystander swept up by tragic events, and therefore subject to the harsh penalties of defeat—in this case, execution. Still, she does a good job of describing the injustices of Guatemalan society and the apparent injustices of an American foreign-policy apparatus wedded to Cold War notions of containing Communism in the western hemisphere. She also confirms, if there were any doubt, the depth of CIA involvement in Guatemalan affairs, including the training and financing of the very death squads responsible for Everardo's death. Readers of her account will be reminded of Costa Gavras's film Missing, and perhaps even Oliver Stone's Salvador, save that these two are much better storytellers. A much shorter book—or even a long magazine article—could have readily accommodated the basics of Harbury's rather slender narrative. (Radio satellite tour) Read full book review >