During the two years just before the 1998 arrest in London of General Augusto Pinochet, the historian Steve J. Stern had been in Chile collecting oral histories of life under Pinochet as part of an investigation into the form and meaning of memories of state-sponsored atrocities. In this compelling work, Stern shares the recollections of individual Chileans and draws on their stories to provide a framework for understanding memory struggles in history.
“A thoughtful, nuanced study of how Chileans remember the traumatic 1973 coup by Augusto Pinochet against Salvador Allende and the nearly two decades of military government that followed. . . . In light of the recent revelations of American human rights abuses of Iraqi prisoners, [Stern’s] insights into the legacies of torture and abuse in the Chilean prisons of the 1970s certainly have contemporary significance for any society that undergoes a national trauma.”—Publishers Weekly
“This outstanding work of scholarship sets a benchmark in the history of state terror, trauma, and memory in Latin America.”—Thomas Miller Klubock, American Historical Review
“This is a book of uncommon depth and introspection. . . . Steve J. Stern has not only advanced the memory of the horrors of the military dictatorship; he has assured the place of Pinochet’s legacy of atrocity in our collective conscience.”—Peter Kornbluh, author of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability
“Steve J. Stern’s book elegantly recounts the conflicted recent history of Chile. He has found a deft solution to the knotty problem of evenhandedness in representing points of view so divergent they defy even the most careful attempts to portray the facts of the Pinochet period. He weaves a tapestry of memory in which narratives of horror and rupture commingle with the sincere perceptions of Chileans who remember Pinochet’s rule as salvation. The facts are there, but more important is the understanding we gain by knowing how ordinary Chileans—Pinochet’s supporters and his victims—work through their unresolved past.”—John Dinges, author of The Condor Years: How Pinochet and His Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents