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At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig: Travels Through Paraguay Paperback – March 8, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Over the past 500 years, Paraguay has been invaded by successive waves of conquistadors, missionaries, Mennonites, Australian socialists, fugitive Nazis and, perhaps most improbably, Islamic extremists. "An island surrounded by land," bordered by vast deserts and impenetrable jungles, Paraguay is a country uniquely suited for those seeking to drop out of sight or, like Gimlette, find themselves. The author was 18 when he first traveled to Paraguay more than two decades ago; return visits only deepened his appreciation for the nation and its tragicomic past. Gimlette seems to have gone everywhere and talked to everyone. He boats down piranha-infested rivers, hobnobs with Anglo-Paraguayan socialites and hunts down the former hiding place of notorious Auschwitz doctor Josef Mengele. Gimlette, a travel writer and lawyer in London, proves a chatty, amiable guide to local institutions like the national railway (which has no running trains) and native wildlife, like the fierce, raccoon-like coatimundis (who, Gimlette writes, "make up for their absence of pity with fistfuls of dagger-like claws"). Yet he doesn't shirk from the nastier aspects of Paraguay's bloody history. Gimlette describes in horrific detail, for example, the rape and conquest of the Guarani Indians as well as the brutally repressive regime of Don Alfredo Stroessner (whose U.S.-backed dictatorship lasted longer than any other in the Western Hemisphere). Gimlette could have used some judicious editing-the narrative drags in parts, and its scattered chronology can be confusing-but he never fails to impress with his ingenuity, sincerity and sense of humor. 16 pages of color and b&w photos, not seen by PW.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
If some Americans can't locate Canada on a map, it's likely many haven't even heard of Paraguay. Yet this California-sized South American country has endured an astonishing run of totalitarianism, instability, and war. Travel writer and attorney Gimlette shares that chilling history, drawing anecdotes from survivors and descendants as he explores the country. While his own doings seem unavoidably flat compared to the outrages he relates (one war killed four-fifths of the country's population, and 9 out of 10 men), it is interesting to glimpse the country today, which is happier yet still a place where the black market dwarfs the gross national product. Gimlette's prose has an almost cartoonish cast at times (a past ruler of "the hookwormed rabble" is "rutting, greasy-pawed"), yet sometimes he turns a perfect phrase ("They already had chimneys and now they wanted fireplaces"). Moreover, he conveys, though he can't explain, a national character that it doesn't seem cliched to call inscrutable. Fascinating and compulsively readable. Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
The author does a great job summarizing Paraguay's history and politics from "El Supremo" through relatively recent times. If you only want to read one book on Paraguay's history, then this is the one for you as it contains a summary of the Triple Alliance War (Paraguay versus Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay) as the author visited many of the main battle sites and the Chaco War fought against Bolivia. Plus it touches on the revolution, Stroessner, Rodriguez and many of the other main political persons from recent times. You could use this book as your main information source for a college paper, or even a Master's Thesis.
The author's observations will offend every one and no one as they are mostly spot-on and have little to no political-correctness restrictions. This book will cause laughter, amazement, anger, disgust, consternation, dumfoundedness and spark a general desire to visit Paraguay again, and again. The other reviews here do a good job of discussing the book's contents so I won't repeat it.
If you want a good read with a little of everything included (murder, crime, romance, sex, business, trade, culture, etc.) then this should be the book for you.
This book instills the desire in one to return for a longer & deeper quest to discover the totality of Paraguay.
I found it interesting that, even after the Epilogue, the author kept writing more and more about the land and its peoples, as if he could not find closure, get shot of, Paraguay. Eleven years after its 1st publication an update would be suitable.