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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2012
This book presents a contemporary incident that took place in Guatemala, Central America, in a town called Dos Erres (The Two R's). The incident was the total destruction of the town in that country, by soldiers (Kaibiles) considered to be an elite group similar to American "Seals." The difference is that those soldiers are assassins. Under false pretenses, that there were "guerrillas" in the town, the Kaibiles rounded up all the men,women, and children assassinating them and throwing the bodies in common graves, later found during the investigation conducted by the government. Some of the "Kaibilies" were found living in the U.S. The only survivor of the massacre is a boy by the name of "Oscar" living in Massachusets.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Excellent article by Ms Arana about the early 80's in Guatemala. This was a time of civil war and uprisings by the poor against the strong, corrupt and murderous government. This story tells the sad story of a Army lieutenant who is a family man yet a murderer when serving and fighting against the rebels. Well written and easy to read, this story will tell a story that a lot people will not recall yet will be glad it is being told now. In the end its all about justice for the dead and the country.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2012
As the Dos Erres massacre hit the news again as trials for the killers concluded, there were a flurry of reports revisiting the massacre. Sebastian Rotella and Ana Arana have come out with a stunning piece of long-form journalism on the event -- told through the terribly human story of Oscar, a boy who was spared and raised by the participants of the massacre. It's a great, thoughtful project-- a great read, and a tragic tale with a hopeful ending.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2014
Short and to the point in describing horrific events during Guatemala's civil war. But feel it could have gone into more detail in the characters, of which presumably much more is known.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2013
The book is filled with intrigue, seeing that it is a non-fictional account of a true story. It is very powerful. So many unnecessary lives were lost in the Guatemalan Civil War, and the mystery around Oscar o Alfredito makes a stunning read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2013
This was a great book which takes the reader back to the horrific realities of civil war in a third world country. I was impressed by the investigator who never gave up searching for the truth, and Oscar who left his stable life in the US to help persecute the mass murders of his boyhood village.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2013
Great research and careful documentation. Anyone who seeks an unbiased information on current events in Guatemala will find this book is short, to the point and very insightful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2012
And we continue to take our freedoms for granted .... a touching, frightening story of what goes on in so many other countries. "Finding Oscar" is well done and one of the few happy endings. Jeanne Kosek
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2012
This book let me eager to know more about the heinous acts that ocurred in Guatemala. I feel a tremenduos saddness for my country and my people. Hasta cuando?
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The basic story is relatively easy to understand. An elite military unit searching for stolen arms attacks a small village in the Guatemala highlands inhabited by Mayans. They find no arms, but rape, torture and kill over 250 inhabitants. The methods used are terrible, very hard to read, but apparently only a small example of many more such atrocities.

Two young boys are kidnapped by members of the unit, apparently because they had light skin and green eyes, and raised normally by two of the military unit. Eventually government prosecutors from Guatemala with help from American officials track down both boys, who are living evidence of the atrocities. Some of the members of the unit are tried and convicted and given long prison sentences.

The essay centers on Oscar, three years old at the time of his abduction, and follows him to the United States, where 30 years later he is reunited by telephone with his father in Guatemala and separately with the other boy who has received asylum in Canada.

Fascinating story, with lots of interesting details, including DNA evidence, wonderfully thorough reporting, continuing atrocities in the highlands even today, an aspect of the war on drugs, deep interest in these events by a few people, massive indifference by others. Lots of interesting side lights: good footnotes on a website (why not just put them in the essay itself -- Kindle footnotes can work very very well in a well edited essay).

Fascinating commentary by a prize winning author, endorsing the reporting, drawing greater lessons from this one episode, dramatic as it was, but repeated time after time in many years of civil war in Guatemala and sadly in other Central American countries and in Mexico. An hour long version on public radio. All very compelling but somehow told in a way I found episodic, difficult to follow, tempting to go off on frolics of my own.

For example, the military unit is called the Kaibiles. Their name comes from Kayb'il B'alam (Kaibil Balam), a Mam indigenous leader who evaded capture by the Spanish conquistadors under Pedro de Alvarado. The corps' soldiers are distinguished from regular troops by maroon berets with patches bearing a blazing sword. Its motto is: "If I advance, follow me. If I stop, urge me on. If I retreat, kill me."

The motto is based on the royalist Henri du Vergier, comte de la Rochejaquelein, who during the French Revolution said: "Mes amis, si j'avance, suivez-moi! Si je recule, tuez-moi! Si je meurs, vengez-moi!" ("Friends, if I advance, follow me! If I retreat, kill me! If I die, avenge me!").

Frankly, I spent more time reading about Kaibil Balam, the Mam, Pedro de Alvarado, and Rochejaquelein and other interesting and tantalizing bits of information than I did about Oscar and what he represents.

Upon more mature reflection, I might persuade myself that this essay deserves another star. But, at the moment, I feel somehow that I missed a very important point, in the forest of perhaps less important points. Or, perhaps not. I'm just a bit confused. Perhaps other reviewers will help me find my way.

Robert C. Ross
May 2012
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