Silence on the Mountain

Silence on the Mountain

Stories of Terror, Betrayal, and Forgetting in Guatemala

  • Author: Wilkinson, Daniel; Joseph, Gilbert M.; Rosenberg, Emily S.
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Serie: American Encounters/Global Interactions
  • ISBN: 9780822333685
  • eISBN Pdf: 9780822386377
  • Place of publication:  Durham , United States
  • Year of digital publication: 2004
  • Month: August
  • Pages: 389
  • DDC: 972.8105/2
  • Language: English
new in paperback
Silence on the Mountain is a virtuoso work of reporting and a masterfully plotted narrative tracing the history of Guatemala’s thirty-six-year internal war, a conflict that claimed the lives of some 200,000 people, the vast majority of whom died (or were “disappeared”) at the hands of the U.S.-backed military government. Written by Daniel Wilkinson, a young human rights worker, the story begins in 1993, when the author decides to investigate the arson of a coffee plantation’s manor house by a band of guerrillas. The questions surrounding this incident soon broaden into a complex mystery whose solution requires Wilkinson to dig up the largely unwritten history of the country’s recent civil war, following its roots back to a land reform movement that was derailed by a U.S.-sponsored military coup in 1954 and to the origins of a plantation system that put Guatemala’s Mayan Indians to work picking coffee beans for the American and European markets.

Decades of terror-inspired fear have led the Guatemalans to adopt a survival strategy of silence so complete that it verges on collective amnesia. The author’s great triumph is that he finds a way for people to tell their stories, and it is through these stories—dramatic, intimate, heartbreaking—that we are shown the anatomy of a thwarted revolution that has relevance not only to Guatemala but also to countless places around the world where terror has been used as a political tool.

  • Cover
  • Contents
  • Author's Note
  • I. A House Burned
    • The Owner
    • The Student
    • The Battlefield
    • Exhumation
  • II. Ashes Fell
    • Rumor
    • Travelogue
    • Natural History
    • Bildungsroman
    • Revelation
    • Decree
  • III. A Future Was Buried
    • A Dangerous Question
    • The Law That Would Change the World
    • Betrayal
    • Burials
  • IV. And They Were the Eruption
    • The Savages
    • Sacuchum
    • The Guerrillas
    • The Politicians
    • The Terrorists
    • The Defeated
    • The StoryTellers
  • List of Names
  • Note on Sources
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index
    • A
    • B
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • K
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • P
    • Q
    • R
    • S
    • T
    • U
    • V
    • W

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