From Publishers Weekly
In this brief yet expertly crafted remembrance, veteran American journalist and Nation contributing editor Cooper traces the fate of Chile from the overthrow in 1973 of its democratically elected Marxist president, Salvador Allende, to today. Cooper is no impartial observer. As a young man he was Allende's translator and shared his radical visions. (He also married into a Chilean family.) But it is the underlying sadness of crushed hopes and demolished dreams, conveyed in the crisp prose of a skilled observer, that makes this tale so compelling. Cooper takes the reader through the last desperate days of Allende's rule and the "dizzying dance of chaos and blood" of his overthrow. He reports on the dreary and dangerous nature of life in Chile in the 1970s and 1980s under the dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet. On returning to Chile in the 1990s, Cooper finds that while democracy has been restored, the political soul of the nation has been lost to a cynical individualism and mindless consumerism, stirred only by the arrest of Pinochet in England for the human rights violations of his regime. He finds in Chile an unwillingness to confront the past and remarks that without doing so the country can never really leave that past behind. In the end, this is a eulogy for the lost utopian longings of Chile, of Cooper himself and of so many of his generation. He writes, "Chile was not the prelude to my generation's accomplishments [but] our political high water mark." Cooper offers engaged reporting at its best. (Jan.)Forecast: Cooper's pro-Allende stance will mark this as a book for readers whose hearts remain on the left; the author's readers at the Nation, for instance, will find this account simpatico. Recent headlines regarding Pinochet will help as well.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Cooper calls this an "anti-memoir" because, he says, a memoir attempts to reassemble parts of a "forgotten or fading past," but in Chile the past has been "erased as if the internal magnets of historical retention...ha[ve] been given a massive jolt of electro-shock." Cooper (Roll Over Che Guevara: Travels of a Radical Reporter), a contributing editor to The Nation, was a translator for Salvador Allende until the Socialist democracy of Chile was overthrown by General Pinochet's coup in 1973. The author details his experiences and emotions during the days leading up to and immediately after the coup. He writes with dismay of the repression and economic inequity he has found on occasional visits back to Chile and laments the apparent refusal of the Chilean people to acknowledge the freedom and promise that the Allende government offered. Current conditions in Chile allow for historical examination of the Allende period and the brutality of the Pinochet era, and Cooper has written this "anti-memoir" to assist with both processes. Recommended for libraries with significant Latin American Studies collections.DJill Ortner, SUNY at Buffalo Libs.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.