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A MIRACLE, A UNIVERSE: SETTLIN
     

A MIRACLE, A UNIVERSE: SETTLIN

by Lawrence Weschler
 
In recent years as countries around the globe have begun to move from dictatorial to more democratic systems of governance, no more traumatic (or dramatic) ethical problem has arisen than what to do with the previous regime’s torturers. In most cases, the security and military apparatuses, responsible for the overwhelming majority of human-rights abuses, still

Overview

In recent years as countries around the globe have begun to move from dictatorial to more democratic systems of governance, no more traumatic (or dramatic) ethical problem has arisen than what to do with the previous regime’s torturers. In most cases, the security and military apparatuses, responsible for the overwhelming majority of human-rights abuses, still retain tremendous power—and will not abide any settling of accounts.
 
Now, New Yorker staff reporter Lawrence Weschler tells the extraordinary story of how, against tremendous odds, torture victims and human-rights activists in two Latin American countries—Brazil and Uruguay—tried to bring their torturers to justice and to rehabilitate their whole societies from harrowing periods of silence and repression. In this first of his two accounts, he tells how a tiny group of torture victims, clerics, and human-rights activists in Brazil launched an extremely risky, nonviolent plot to get even with the former torturers by publishing an indisputable account of their savage system of repression—indisputable because it is drawn from the regime’s own files. In the second, set in Uruguay, he tells how a more broadly-based movement attempted to bring to light the dark history of a military regime engaged in more political incarceration per capita than any other on earth at that time.
 
In this illuminating and beautifully written book (portions of which appeared in five issues of The New Yorker), Weschler examines what a small number of individuals can do to retrieve history and truth from the hands of torturers.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After the demise of Brazil's repressive military regime, a group of ex-prisoners, all former torture victims, banded together to document their captors' atrocities--arbitrary arrests and ``disappearances,'' the torture of thousands, murders. Their 1985 book, which holds the U.S. responsible for helping to create Brazil's dictatorship, became a bestseller in that country. In the first half of his dispassionate report, New Yorker staff writer Wechsler records his conversations with the survivors. Brazil's one-time torturers, he notes, have risen to positions of power. In the book's second half, he describes Uruguay's massive but unsuccessful petition campaign--spearheaded by ex-torture victims and human rights activists--to bring to justice the toppled Uruguayan military regime's butchers. Though Wechsler underestimates the U.S. role in reversing Uruguay's democracy, he points out that the State Department issued bland assurances that the police state in Uruguay was a temporary response to an emergency situation. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Systematic political torture is a relatively recent phenomenon in world politics. Weschler, a New Yorker staff writer, chronicles an era of torture in Brazil and Uruguay. He bases his Brazilian account on over one million pages of archives kept by the military, which includes accounts by survivors. He also tells the story of the not-wholly successful efforts to bring Uruguayan officials to justice. Individual accounts of torture, however, are only a small part of the book; instead, Weschler recounts the story of whole societies as victims. Previously excerpted in a five-part series in The New Yorker , this is a compelling book that draws attention to a political truth that is too easily avoided. Highly recommended for public and university libraries.-- Andrea Bonnicksen, Eastern Illinois Univ., Charleston

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307819031
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/02/2013
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Lawrence Weschler is a staff writer for The New Yorker, where he specializes in political and cultural reporting. His book The Passion of Poland includes his reports on solidarity and martial law, for which he was awarded the 1981-2 Hemingway Prize of the Overseas Press Club for the year’s best magazine reporting from abroad. His art-world writings include Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, David Hockney’s Comeraworks, and Shapinsky’s Karma, which was awarded the 1988 George Polk Award for the year’s best cultural reporting. Mr. Weschler has also written for Rolling Stone, the Village Voice, Artforum, Los Angeles Times, and the International Herald Tribune. Mr. Weschler lives in New York with his wife and daughter.

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