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LOOKING FOR HISTORY by Alma Guillermoprieto Kirkus Star

LOOKING FOR HISTORY

Dispatches from Latin America

By Alma Guillermoprieto

Pub Date: April 18th, 2001
ISBN: 0-375-42094-0
Publisher: Pantheon

Clear-eyed essays focusing chiefly on political events of the past decade in Colombia, Mexico, and Cuba.

New Yorker writer Guillermoprieto (The Heart That Bleeds, 1994) is the very model of the intrepid reporter. With astounding energy, she braves the snarls of politics and the perils of mountains and jungle to hack her way to the heart of the matter and lay out the facts for her reader. Whether she is making her way through the nearly impenetrable wilds of Colombia to meet with leaders of that nation’s oldest guerilla group (the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, alias FARC) or being awakened in the middle of the night to talk with Subcomandante Marcos, military leader of the Zapatistas, her commitment to the story is unshakeable. She stays alert through six hours of a Castro press conference, and awakens at 5 a.m. to witness the Pope’s historic outdoor mass in Havana. For all of this physical action, however, it is her fluency with the political territory that is truly remarkable. Tracing the histories of political parties and alliances, Guillermoprieto provides insight into movements that usually seem absolutely opaque. The nebulous War on Drugs in Colombia is laid out piece by piece, with the guerillas and government actors labeled and interviewed. The Zapatistas are made human and comprehensible. Cuba’s citizenry is seen up close and personal. Looking at massive movements and political machinery, Guillermoprieto insists on understanding the very human motivations behind them and their impact on millions of regular people who contribute to them and must live with their effects. She’s equally impressive analyzing Eva Perón or Mario Vargas Llosa.

A truly instructive work.