FIRE FROM THE MOUNTAIN: The Making of a Sandinista by Omar Cabezas

FIRE FROM THE MOUNTAIN: The Making of a Sandinista

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The tradition of literary revolutionaries runs deep in Nicaragua (Rev. Ernesto Cardenal, one of the nation's best-known poets, is Minister of Culture), and Cabezas writes in this tradition, using the language of the barrio to tell about his Sandinista life in the early 1970s. It's an adventure story, beginning with Cabezas's decision to enlist for a year as a student leader, a year's training in the mountains, and his return to the city to live underground. The narrowly personal story is at once coarse and romantic, earthy and poetic. At its core is his arduous rite of passage in the jungle, where he tries to be ""like Che"" and live for the people. Human, he is lonely, has doubts, misses his past, fears death, and gets sick (pleurisy). But he also thrives: he seems a very young, good-natured youngster who needs to prove his own manhood as much as help the poor to revolt. While Cabezas avoids the doctrinaire, tidy narratives of some revolutionaries' memoirs, his conversational approach--like city kids hanging out--allows vagueness on key points. There is little discussion of the Sandinistas' goals, strategies, factions, and excesses. His friends and lovers are a blur, particularly Claudia, who gave birth to his child while he was in the mountains and comes alive only when she sends Cabezas a ""Dear John"" letter. But despite a sense that Cabezas's range of subject matter is disingenuously limited, he provides a valuable inside look at a group of people whose sensibilities, ideals, and experiences are either unknown in the U.S. or distorted into ogre-hood. Cabezas is today chief of political direction in Nicaragua's Ministry of the Interior.

Pub Date: June 21st, 1985
Publisher: Crown