SHINING PATH by Simon Strong


Terror and Revolution in Peru
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 Everything you need to know about Abimael Guzman (recently captured by Peruvian government forces), his Shining Path movement, and grass-roots revolution in general; by freelance British correspondent Strong (The New York Times, The Independent, etc.). Strong's credentials include a very thorough knowledge of contemporary Peru, where he has lived for years, and his research is integrated by a sophisticated sense of history and economics. Beginning with a Stockholm meeting with Guzman's brother-in-law, Strong weaves a convincing tale of poverty, racism, slaughter, and the focused dedication of one remarkable man. In doing so, he recapitulates modern revolution as it has been embodied in figures like Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, and Mao, and makes comprehensible the messianic power that transforms victimized masses. The author sees Guzman--the brilliant bastard son of a wealthy and powerful man--as two people: a kind scholar of genuine gifts, beloved of friends and small children; and a ticking time-bomb, a classic ascetic/obsessive in whom personal and social resentment come together with implacable force. And Strong places Guzman in context: The author's command of such local realities as Inca mythology, the politics of Mario Vargas Llosa, the overriding economic realities of cocaine, the role of the universities in Latin American politics, the significance of Mormon and fundamentalist presences, and the internecine warfare of leftist groups infuses his account with an authenticity--and consequent interest--that goes beyond mere reportage. Strong's version of how yet another US/local-despot alliance is confronted by yet another leftist group is evenhanded enough to make all involved parties uncomfortable--but never the reader. Strong, succinct writing about an important phenomenon.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-8129-2180-1
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993