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Walking Ghosts: Murder and Guerrilla Politics in Colombia 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415933049
ISBN-10: 0415933048
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Dudley has written for many national periodicals, and his dispatches from Colombia have been heard on National Public Radio. His five years in that war-, drug-, and assassin-torn country are fodder for this extremely revealing volume of reportage. Infinite patience and concentration will be needed to navigate the author's encyclopedic exposition. Careful readers, though, are rewarded with a cast of characters so colorful that if the venue were shifted to the U.S., they could only reside in New Orleans. A country with one-seventh the population of the U.S. experiences some 30,000 murders per year, 75 political assassinations per week, and 10 kidnappings per day. (Kidnapping in order to elicit funding for political fronts has been perfected to a high art.) So deadly are the country's politics that the author had to flee the country and still fears for his life. But he was impelled to chronicle the story anyway in this thrilling and informative read. Includes impromptu photographs that assist in humanizing the myriad rebels, guerrillas, drug kingpins, and politicians who populate this quagmire. Allen Weakland
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"A brave, meticulously researched story of missed opportunities, treachery and revenge, and the burden of history on a country that has rarely known peace."
-Scott Wilson, the "Washington Post
..."an authoritative work of modern history which is also a nail-biting page turner ... Dudley writes with an appealing blend of passion and honesty, and his book is absolutely riveting."
-Jon Lee Anderson, the "New Yorker
"Meticulously reported, Walking Ghosts...leaves the reader on the edge of his seat."
-Juan Forero, "New York Times
..."essential reading for anyone who wants to fully understand the causes of Latin America's longest-running civil war. A brave and unflinching book."
-Joseph Contreras, "Newsweek
..."an engrossing, sometimes hair-raising account of Colombia's bloody, overlapping conflicts."
-Roane Carey, "The Nation
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (December 31, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415933048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415933049
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #958,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Excellent! This is hardearned and very readable reportage and history. Mr.Dudley is to be commended for physically braving the treacherous terrain of Colombian politics and the guerrilla conflict there. If life is as expendable in Colombia as it appears to be, the author must have had more than a few frightening experiences. The Colombian propensity for violence is exceeded only by the fatalism necessary to endure it and, perhaps, he made use of its dubious benefits.'Walking Ghosts' is very informative: it gives an objective history of the 'elimination' of the 'Union Patriotica' reform party by government supported paramilitary death squads as well as providing a knowledgeable background and perspective on the corrupt enterprises that are the present FARC, AUC, and Colombian government and military. Mr. Dudley weaves personal histories into larger themes, in particular following some doomed and shortlived careers of UP members while not neglecting some of the tough customers of their deadly opposition. The UP was unfortunately caught in the maw of Colombia's ongoing 'violencia' as the cocaine trade expanded and forced its dynamic on Colombian politics. The FARC is portrayed as less than honorable and only marginally less married to 'violencia' in the scheme of things. One is left with few illusions and, sadly, little hope for the future of Colombia; reconciliation and forgiveness would seem hard to come by after such viciousness. Perhaps the 'fatalismo' of the Colombians could serve them in eventually effecting a peace. Again, a very well written and engaging history of a misunderstood conflict that could well involve the US military (you! your son or daughter!) in the years ahead.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is excellent, and that's coming from a jaded college student at the end of the semester. It is extremely readable, especially given that it is historical non-fiction, and very informative. It tells the story of the Unión Patriótica, a political party founded by the FARC, a Colombian guerrilla front, by telling specific people's stories to get that aspect of the controversy. For the most part the story is told chronologically, but by changing the point of view about every chapter, Dudley keeps the reader interested. His prose is light enough to be readable without losing information, and by tying in interviews, research, and stories, he justifies his leftist tone and fills many gaps in official dialogues.
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Format: Hardcover
"Walking Ghosts: Murder and Guerrilla Politics in Colombia," by Steven Dudley is a stunning journalistic account of political genocide. To this end, the author has very likely crossed a dangerous line in Colombia's Civil War and has exposed himself to enormous danger. Because by bravely documenting the links between Colombia's ruthless narco-paramilitary death squads, the Colombian armed forces, the Colombian National Police, powerful landowners and corrupt members of the two-party political establishment...he has made many bitter enemies.
This book is about the tragic rise and fall of a Colombian political party called the Patriotic Union(UP). Dudley painstakingly interviews the key political actors in the Colombian Communist Party and senior members of the FARC guerrilla organization who were responsible for the establishment of the UP. At the beginning there was much hope that the UP party could break the rigid chains of Colombia's two party system and foster a reform minded peace. However, Dudley's impeccable research demonstrates how powerful members of Colombian society were not prepared to accept a political party (that was officially sanctioned by the government) because it was sponsored by the Communist Party and a revolutionary guerrilla army (FARC).
Consequently, a sinister dirty war was conducted. The government intentionally fell silent while the Army and well-financed paramilitary death squads exterminated the UP. The body count was horrific. A total of 111 members of the UP were murdered in 1987; 276 were assasinated in 1988; and 138 were butchered in 1989. Within ten years thousands were slaughtered. The dead included UP presidential candidates, Senators, Mayors and members of Congress.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am on my second reading of the book, and unless you read each page three times, you will need a second reading of the book. There are a tremendous number of characters to keep track of. To his credit, Dudley does reintroduce characters in later chapters as if you've never read about them.
It's obvious this book is a rewrite of a masters thesis, but I'm not sure what Dudley was rewriting it into. It feels as if it was supposed to be (and to some extent is) a story of the authors experiences in Colombia and what he was able to reveal about the Colombian political culture. However the chapters seem to be chunks of a thesis with a new title put on and rearranged text to better fit the title. For example, the "Black Vladimir" chapter contains a great deal of information on the character, however so does the rest of the book.
Having said that, it is a great overview of the tumultuous 80's in Colombia through detailed accounts. This info is essential to understand current politics in Colombia. Also included is a cursory overview of the pre-1980 colombian political situation as well as the 90's. There is an attempt to cover politics outside of the UP, but it struck me as shallow. The 90's, for example, are glossed over for the most part. I also wish there was more information about the more current situation.
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