Pinochet And Me

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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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“In writing from Chile, Marc Cooper vividly and masterfully evokes some of the darkest chapters of US Cold War policy. This book brings to life the compelling human history buried under three decades of official stories and distortions.”—Warren Beatty

“Remembering Chile’s past with passion and pain, and witnessing Chile’s present with heart-breaking lucidity and irony, Marc Cooper offers us many roads into the surreal country that, incredibly, has produced both Salvador Allende and Augusto Pinochet.”—Ariel Dorfman

“Democratic Chile was indispensable in the education of Marc Cooper. Now he redeems the debt by become indispensable for our education in democratic Chile.”—Christopher Hitchens

Village Voice
[S]truggles to breathe remembrance into a decades-long nightmare of civilian death, imprisonment and exile.
Times Literary Supplement
In spite of his critical perspective of Chile, it is a country he clearly loves. This is a fine and lucid book.
Warren Beatty
[V]ividly and masterfully evokes some of the darkest chapters of US Cold War policy.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Cooper calls this an "anti-memoir" because, he says, a memoir attempts to reassemble parts of a "forgotten or fading past," but in Chile the past has been "erased as if the internal magnets of historical retention...ha[ve] been given a massive jolt of electro-shock." Cooper (Roll Over Che Guevara: Travels of a Radical Reporter), a contributing editor to The Nation, was a translator for Salvador Allende until the Socialist democracy of Chile was overthrown by General Pinochet's coup in 1973. The author details his experiences and emotions during the days leading up to and immediately after the coup. He writes with dismay of the repression and economic inequity he has found on occasional visits back to Chile and laments the apparent refusal of the Chilean people to acknowledge the freedom and promise that the Allende government offered. Current conditions in Chile allow for historical examination of the Allende period and the brutality of the Pinochet era, and Cooper has written this "anti-memoir" to assist with both processes. Recommended for libraries with significant Latin American Studies collections.--Jill Ortner, SUNY at Buffalo Libs. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859843604
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 6/17/2002
  • Pages: 158
  • Sales rank: 683,120
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet 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.

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Table of Contents

Preface: Homage to Santiago ix
Prelude: "My Name is Pinochet" November-December 1971 1
Omen: Allende's Dilemma July 1973 17
Deluge: Chronicle of a Death Postponed September 1973 31
Aftermath: Perpetual Night December 1975 55
Resistance: Streets of Fire September 1983 71
Illusion: a Transvestite Democracy January-March 1998 82
Resurrection: Adios General! December 1999-September 2000 111
Acknowledgments 139
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