Pinochet and Me: A Chilean Anti-Memoir

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9781859843604: Pinochet and Me: A Chilean Anti-Memoir
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The earthshaking news of October 1998 that General Pinochet had been arrested in Britain unleashed two years of international interest in the case and its ramifications for traveling tyrants the world over. But even after the General’s return home, the media has ignored the more important story of how his detention lifted a stranglehold that had suffocated Chile’s moral sensibility for a generation.

Award-winning journalist Marc Cooper was a translator to President Allende until the coup of 1973. In this reflection on Chile and the role it has played in his life, he reconstructs the tense atmosphere of the final days of the Allende government, including his hiding and subsequent evacuation under armed UN protection. Twenty-five years later he returns and recounts, in vivid street-level reporting, a country that is a democracy in name only and a society that has been transfigured by one of the most radical, armed capitalist revolutions of our time. Yet, he argues, spasms of protest that seemed like the last rattle of the snake may still presage the crumbling of Chile’s status quo as its people emerge from the long night of reaction to the cry of “Adios General!”

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About the Author:

Marc Cooper was a translator for President Salvador Allende at the time of the Chilean coup in 1973. His journalism has appeared in publications that include the New Yorker, Harper’s and Rolling Stone. He is currently a contributing editor of the Nation magazine, and is the author of Roll Over Che Guevara: Travels of a Radical Reporter and Pinochet and Me.

From Publishers Weekly:

In this brief yet expertly crafted remembrance, veteran American journalist and Nation contributing editor Cooper traces the fate of Chile from the overthrow in 1973 of its democratically elected Marxist president, Salvador Allende, to today. Cooper is no impartial observer. As a young man he was Allende's translator and shared his radical visions. (He also married into a Chilean family.) But it is the underlying sadness of crushed hopes and demolished dreams, conveyed in the crisp prose of a skilled observer, that makes this tale so compelling. Cooper takes the reader through the last desperate days of Allende's rule and the "dizzying dance of chaos and blood" of his overthrow. He reports on the dreary and dangerous nature of life in Chile in the 1970s and 1980s under the dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet. On returning to Chile in the 1990s, Cooper finds that while democracy has been restored, the political soul of the nation has been lost to a cynical individualism and mindless consumerism, stirred only by the arrest of Pinochet in England for the human rights violations of his regime. He finds in Chile an unwillingness to confront the past and remarks that without doing so the country can never really leave that past behind. In the end, this is a eulogy for the lost utopian longings of Chile, of Cooper himself and of so many of his generation. He writes, "Chile was not the prelude to my generation's accomplishments [but] our political high water mark." Cooper offers engaged reporting at its best. (Jan.)Forecast: Cooper's pro-Allende stance will mark this as a book for readers whose hearts remain on the left; the author's readers at the Nation, for instance, will find this account simpatico. Recent headlines regarding Pinochet will help as well.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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