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The Monkey's Paw: New Chronicles from Peru Paperback – November 21, 1997
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As a past and future visitor to Peru, I found this book helpful in relating something of the substance of Peruvian society to me, as it has been experienced by a fellow American in her work as an investigative journalist and past resident of the country.
Perhaps because of her youth, her writing is somewhat naive, but her journalistic talent is pretty good in her descriptions of people, places, feelings and thoughts. This is not a deep book. She complains about everyday problems and personalities as personal attacks on herself. Perhaps this adds to what life and living was like during the 1980-1992 era of fear caused by the Shining Path.
I enjoyed this book as it concentrated on the micro level and not the more bland macro level. It helps fill in pieces of Peruvian history that might not be found elsewhere, so for that, the time spent reading this book was worthwhile.
Robin Kirk, in her collection of rather disparate chapters, charts her Peruvian encounters with the senderistas, their pursuers, and the victims left by both sides--'internal refugees' forced off their land by those who claimed to fight for and protect them, whether government or guerrillas. Beginning with her 1983 first visit to Orin Starn as he was writing his dissertation about a Piura hamlet, Tunnel Six, that grew around the spew from an irrigation works near the Ecuadorian border, she records various stints spent in the country over the next decade and more, as the war with Abimael Guzmán's disciples intensified and spread to the cities.
I read her account after having studied her translation of Gustavo Gorriti's history of the SP. I wondered, from an English-language vantage point, why so few reporters from outside Perú had produced book-length works for a popular audience on the movement. Why? In large part, the hostility towards 'Western' gringo observers, not only by the army and police suspicious of collaborators, but from the SP itself.
Kirk, like previous chroniclers to a land of harsh weapons and forbidding walls, finds herself trapped. Her white skin, San Franciscan provenance, and education distance her from her subjects. They mistrust her, and she finds herself caught between pity and contempt more than once as she listens to guerrilla prisoners.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The exceptionally well written account of a journey to another world and another time-- in this case, the Peruvian back of beyond, during the years of its domination by the Sendero... Read morePublished on August 31, 2009 by michael elvin
I read this book in anticipation of an upcoming trip to Peru. I hoped to gain some historical and cultural perspective to help me understand and appreciate the country. Read morePublished on November 7, 2000
I was very disappointed by this book. I'm from Peru and I expected a sharp, original account. Instead, I learned lots about the author and her struggles with my country. Read morePublished on June 5, 2000
It is a good, interesting book. She portrays different aspects of the Peruvian reality for the reader who is not very familiar with Peru. Read morePublished on October 12, 1999 by Mariella Reano
Realistic and accurate description of Peru's modern reality. Robin Kirk writes humanely yet unpatronizingly about the plight of the Peruvian people caught in the middle between... Read morePublished on February 4, 1998