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There Are No Dead Here: A Story of Murder and Denial in Colombia Hardcover – February 27, 2018
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"This well-researched and beautifully told history explains how three civilians rewrote Colombian history."―Booklist
"A deeply informed account of Colombia's decades long civil war and the many figures who profited from it... An admirable work of journalism in the interest of human rights."―Kirkus Reviews
"In her masterful work, Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno unravels the intrigue, politics, and history between Colombia's government and its paramilitaries. Through her precise reporting and elegant prose, There Are No Dead Here paints a vivid and harrowing portrait of three brave individuals who, despite death threats and great risk to themselves and their families, expose some of their country's darkest secrets. This book is a must for anyone fascinated by Colombia's complex history."―Melissa del Bosque, author of Bloodlines
"The horrific violence in Colombia during the 1990s and 2000s is made painfully palpable in this account of three men who risked their lives to make public the atrocities committed by paramilitary forces and the Colombian government.... A necessarily grim narrative about the effects of government corruption in Colombia, with rays of hope to be found in Calderón's, Valle's, and Velásquez's impressive achievements against formidable odds."―Publishers Weekly
"A gripping and illuminating portrait of three far from ordinary Colombian whose courage, leadership, and perseverance continue to influence and inspire the fight for justice throughout Latin America. In a way, this story provides a roadmap of the hard, daring journey toward hope."―Francisco Goldman, author of The Interior Circuit
"Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno has written an important, gripping account of how three individuals heroically risked their lives to fight terror and corruption in their country. The violent dramas and acts of human bravery that are told in There Are No Dead Here unfold in Colombia, but also offer lucid insights into the fragility of civil society-and of rule of law-anywhere. At a time when the boundaries between tyranny and democracy, truth and falsehood, become increasingly opaque, McFarland's book offers a narrative that is unerring in its moral clarity."
―Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life
"Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno has woven together a remarkable tale about drugs, violence, greed, corruption and -- far above all else -- human courage. A deep knowledge of Colombia and the people who live there is threaded through every page of the story, yet the book's relevance reaches far beyond that country's borders."―Monte Reel, author of Between Man and Beast
About the Author
Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno is the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. Previously, she held several positions at Human Rights Watch, including as the organization's senior Americas researcher, covering Colombia and Peru, and as the co-director of its US program. She grew up in Lima, Peru, and now lives in Brooklyn.
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The story is overwhelming, and that is part of the problem with this book. If you are a student of this part of the world, the large number of characters, of place names, of paramilitary and other groups will be familiar to you. If you are reading this to learn more of a tragic time for Colombia, the amount of detail bogs the story down and makes it often hard to follow without going back and trying to retrace who was working for what group, etc. A map of the country would have been helpful to track some of the action and perhaps even a list of key groups and/or individuals to help keep the players straight. It is for this reason that I can not rate this otherwise important story with more than three stars.
Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno chronicles this brutal period with an eye for detail and, at least at first, a grasp of the humanity of those involved. The book slowly spirals out of her control, as the plots become unwieldy and the characters numerous, but at the heart of the tale is a true story of crime run rampant, sparked by numerous forces (internal and external), and those who refused to cower in the face of overwhelming odds and the constant threat of murder and torture. A flawed chronicle, but a fascinating one nonetheless.
I do not doubt that this will be a valuable resource for a student of Colombian politics and history. But for the casual reader, the level of detail is overwhelming, and the book lacks an overarching framework that might help add clarity.
It is not an easy read. You need to have a background in the history and strong interest in the topic to stay with it. For that reason alone, I rate it a four.