Pinochet and Me: A Chilean Anti-Memoir

Marc Cooper, Author Verso $22 (143p) ISBN 978-1-85984-785-5
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.
Reviewed on: 12/04/2000
Release date: 01/01/2001
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Paperback - 158 pages - 978-1-85984-360-4
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