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Children of Cain: Violence and the Violent in Latin America

4.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140172546
ISBN-10: 0140172548
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rosenberg powerfully depicts the endemic violence and corruption of Latin America as well as the ambiguities of American involvement in the region.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Journalist Rosenberg asks a question asked by most foreign observers of Latin America: What inclines its citizens to commit the excessive physical violence against each other that is endemic to the region? To answer this significant question, Rosenberg, rather than focusing on the victim's point of view, the subject of such works as Jacobo Timerman's Prisoner Without a Name, Cell Without a Number ( LJ 5/15/81), instead explores the dark side of humanity, those who make such cruelty possible. He presents six fascinating characters in this extraordinary account: an honest Medellin judge, murdered for his integrity; an Argentine naval captain, responsible for the torture and death of hundreds; an active member of the mysterious, fanatic Peruvian Sendero Luminoso ; a representative of the El Salvadorean wealthy class; a Nicaraguan guerrilla turned interior officer; and a Chilean student leader. Highly recommended.
- Roderic A. Camp, Central Coll., Pella, Ia.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (October 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140172548
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140172546
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,135 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on December 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
Rosenberg demonstrates the extraordinary ability to reveal a nation's history through an anecdotal tale of one of its citizens. She begins with these individuals to show you the end product _ then retraces the steps of Latin America's dark, recent history to show you how a nightmare became real. Rosenberg not only tells the story of the downtrodden and displaced, but also the story of the "victors," or the elites. It would be difficult to sympathize with anyone responsible for the murder and torture that has plagued Latin America this century, yet Rosenberg reveals the fears of the persecutors, valid or not, with the same perception with which she portrays the persecuted. In addition to nightmarish governmental indifference and inhumanity from all sides, Rosenberg sums up each country's recent history in a brief and concise two or three pages. As a student of, and journalist in, Latin America, "Children of Cain" remains my most worn and dog-eared reference book. I see the faces Tina painted everywhere I go. Neophytes who yearn for a basic understanding of Latin America and seasoned scholars alike will come away with a better understanding of these national histories that seem so foreign. Reading "Children of Cain" will put everything you read afterward into context.
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Format: Paperback
This is the best book on Latin America I've ever read--it is extremely accessible for people who know nothing about Latin America, and for those who do, it is a major contribution to our understanding of the region. Rosenberg's vinnettes and explanations of the violence seemingly endemic to Latin America are brilliantly written and compelling. She captures the essense of the countries she writes about, and deftly explains their histories so that we understand the reasons for the violence. We can no longer just hear about the violence plaging Latin America and see it as irrational, wondering where it came from. Wonderful portraits of the perpetrators of violence, marking Rosenberg as different from the throngs of writers--journalists and others--who have focused on the victims of violence, on the corpses and grewsome stories. More attention needs to be given to the perpetrators and also those who live with such violence, who watch it and become numb to it, including ourselves. A major contribution to Latin American studies and the study of violence.
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Not only has Ms. Rosenburg done a spectacular gob in writing an extremely readable book, she provides her audience vivid decriptions using a very personal approach that employs the use of specific people, their experiences and dilemmas. She also provides her audience with the neccessary historical and enviromental (social, politial and economic) information to put these personal and organizational accouts into the cotexts neccessary for reader to truely appriecate the psychology of the forces driving these extaordinary historical events.
Moreover, Ms. Rosenburg provides the reader with six different cases from six differnet countries. From Escobar's Medellin to Argentina's "Dirty War", she examines and analyzes different types of violence motivated by unique sets of circumstances.
I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN; A MUST READ FOR ANYONE INTERESTED IN LATIN AMERICA!
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Format: Paperback
This is the second book by Tina Rosenberg I have read. The first one was Haunted Land about Eastern Europe after the fall of communism, which I also highly recommend. I'm so pleased with Rosenberg's style that I'm after her book on South Africa as well.
For almost a decade Rosenberg traveled through Latin America not shying away from really messy situations trying to make sense of a history of violence and very little respect for human rights. Tina experienced many of the situations herself such as being soaked with diluted acid by the police in the streets of Santiago, Chile, during marches against Pinochet or taking a nightmarish truck bed trip through guerrilla infested Peru. The Latin American economic, political and military elites also had their points of view captured by Rosenberg resulting, as far as I can tell, in a very well balanced collection of personal perspectives on the problem - violence in Latin America - intermingled with background historical information.
Rosenberg is very competent in summarizing the recent history and the roots of violence in Latin America. The author brings the historical review to life by interviewing perpetrators and victims. Violence in Latin America as viewed by Rosenberg emanates from a history of inequality. The native populations and the unwillingly imported black slaves and their descendants have been for five centuries exploited and victimized by greedy white Europeans. The resulting instable societies in turn fall prey of guerrilla groups, organized crime, drug lords, or the old fashioned military economic and political elites. The victimized population looses faith in the state and became passive or takes matters on their own hands solving social problems or even threatening or overthrowing governments.
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Tina Rosenburg has won the Pulitzer Prize for her work as a non-fiction author and as a journalist. She graduated from Northwestern University with both a B.S. and a M.S. She has written for papers and magazines such as Harper's, The Washington Post, The New York Times Magazine, and many others. Her non-fiction works include Children of Cain: Violence and the Violent in Latin America, The Haunted Land: Facing Europe's Ghosts After Communism, and her latest book, Join the Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World. With Rosenburg's MacArthur Fellowship award, she was able to travel throughout Latin America and report both the violence throughout South American nations and her own experience recording the violence. Rosenburg is currently serving in the World Policy Institute as a senior fellow.[1]

In Children of Cain: Violence and the Violent in Latin America, Rosenburg's thesis is that whether or not a military junta or a democratic republic runs a state, a state cannot function properly unless that state respects its citizens and the citizens respect the state. If there is no respect for state or citizenry then there is a breakdown in society. Street violence and or state-sponsored violence become the norm of states that suffer from this social breakdown. This work is divided into seven chapters.

The first chapter is where Rosenburg lays out her underlying thesis. The following six chapters are divided by country. Each Latin American country receives its own special analysis on why and when violence became the social norm for that country. In each chapter, Rosenburg tries to maintain a list of influential characters, the movers and shakers of each particular country.
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