cover image The Shining Path: Love, Madness, and Revolution in the Andes

The Shining Path: Love, Madness, and Revolution in the Andes

Orin Starn and Miguel La Serna. Norton, $28.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-393-29280-0

This captivating work traces the story of the Shining Path, the communist guerrilla insurgency that erupted in Peru in the 1980s. Anthropologist Starn (Ishi’s Brain) and historian La Serna (The Corner of the Living) detail how the organization—motivated by “that great Communist longing to redeem humanity from misery and injustice”—ignited a rural rebellion to destroy the capitalist system. With “frightful cruelty and mad illusions of victory,” the group unleashed a wave of terror—bombings, sabotage, assassinations, and massacres. The Peruvian military and police reacted with an equally brutal counterinsurgency involving torture, killings, and indiscriminate massacres. The conflict spread to the capital and throughout the country, and the civilian population found itself in the crosshairs. The authors highlight Abimael Guzmán, the polite and charismatic academic turned “Communist warrior–philosopher king” who spearheaded the revolutionary movement and espoused an uncompromising Marxism. The other primary figures include Augusta La Torre, Guzmán’s wife, who helped him lead the insurrection and who died during the war; Elena Iparaguirre, another high-level rebel whom Guzmán subsequently fell in love with; and Gustavo Gorriti, a journalist covering the Shining Path. Interviews with Iparaguirre add insight. The authors skillfully weave a noteworthy story of violence and drama. (Apr.)