MAMISTA by Len Deighton


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 Deighton's longest, most complex and passionate novel in years: an epic tale, set in a South American jungle, of good men and women crushed beneath the heel of Realpolitik. The world-weary pessimism that seeped into Spy Sinker (1990) stains these pages black; even Deighton's customary whimsy has withered into a pervasive bitter irony. Yet there's valor in his new, brilliantly realized huge cast of characters, beginning with two men who travel for different reasons to Spanish Guiana: Australian M.D. Ralph Lucas, sent by a relief group to research medical conditions in the area controlled by the MAMista Marxist guerrilla movement; and Angel Paz, an idealistic young ``Yanqui'' Marxist determined to fight for revolution. After meeting under the brutal gaze of the country's neofascist rulers, the pair-- accompanied by Inez, a beautiful female revolutionary--endure a harrowing air ride to the south, where they link up with General Ram¢n, leader of the MAMista. There, disillusionment sets in as Lucas is shocked at the rampant disease and malnutrition, and Paz finds himself compared unfavorably by Ram¢n to the wise, if capitalist, Lucas. A guerrilla raid on an American outpost jacks up the emotional tension: Inez, to her shame, kills in cold blood; Paz causes an innocent's death; a CIA man is captured--and proves the key for future horrors. Meanwhile, in mesmerizing scenes set--in contrast to the miasmic jungle--in elegant D.C. power venues, including the White House, the President and his chief advisor hammer out a shady deal with Ram¢n to permit US exploitation of a huge oil find in guerrilla territory. To consecrate the deal, Ram¢n sends Lucas and comrades to escort the CIA man north on a jungle trek that explodes in heroism, betrayal, absurdity, and death. The spirits of Graham Greene and Joseph Conrad hover over this stately, outstanding mix of tragedy and black farce that builds slowly--but inexorably--to its piercing conclusion.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-06-017936-8
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1991


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