cover image THE BLINDFOLD'S EYES: My Journey from Torture to Truth

THE BLINDFOLD'S EYES: My Journey from Torture to Truth

Dianna Ortiz, with Patricia Davis. . Orbis, $25 (484pp) ISBN 978-1-57075-435-7

In 1989, Sister Dianna Ortiz, an American-born nun, was abducted from the compound where she worked in Guatemala. Twenty-four hours later, she escaped, but within that brief period, her body had been burned with cigarettes, she'd been raped, beaten and forced to torture a woman who was already near death. As a consequence of her devastation, Ortiz lost every memory she had of her life before the kidnapping, and spent years battling both real and remembered demons in a struggle to heal herself and to spread the word about U.S. complicity in Guatemala's repressive political system and in the torture and murder of thousands of innocent Guatemalans. This is an important book for two reasons: its illustration of the fallout of torture and the special needs of survivors, and Ortiz's well-documented narrative of the U.S. government's refusal to take seriously what happened to her, particularly as she identified one of her torturers as an American. It's unfortunate that Ortiz didn't have a better editor. This is a powerful story and Ortiz (aided by Davis, communications director of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission) is a strong writer, but the avalanche of detail will confuse readers, and material such as the text of speeches and memos could have been included in an appendix. But Ortiz's determination to tell the truth in spite of ongoing threats and her own fear makes this book, despite its flaws, impossible to dismiss. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)

Forecast: With the publication of Daniel Wilkinson's Silence on the Mountain: Stories of Terror, Betrayal and Forgetting in Guatemala on Sept. 26, there may be occasion for the media to focus on that country's tragic recent history. A six-city tour by Ortiz and a $30,000 promotion budget should help.