The Monkey's Paw: New Chronicles from Peru

The Monkey's Paw: New Chronicles from Peru

The Monkey's Paw: New Chronicles from Peru

The Monkey's Paw: New Chronicles from Peru

Synopsis

Drawing on Peru's rich history, journalist Robin Kirk combines interviews and personal narrative to present a vivid portrait of this turbulent country. The book opens with her first trip to Peru in 1983, just as the Shining Path guerrillas plunged the nation into sudden, violent change. Amid the horror and loss of war, she finds moving and often marvelous human stories of people from all walks of life. She ends her narrative with the bittersweet return of peasant refugees to their war-ravaged Andean villages.

Excerpt

On my first trip to Peru in 1983, I slipped a note into my pocket to give to the guerrillas in case they stopped the bus and searched the passengers. the note introduced me as a journalist who wanted to interview Abimael Guzmán, the leader of the Communist Party of Peru -- Shining Path, an insurgency that had by then taken hold in the southern highlands. At the gas station where the bus would fill its tank for the journey, the driver first turned to the passengers to take a vote about whether to proceed. Our destination, Ayacucho, was where the guerrillas were strongest. Often, they had lists of names and culled like damaged fruit the passengers who were police officers or had committed a perceived crime, like skimming money from a potable water project or wheedling a peasant community out of land. These passengers were shot, kneeling, at the side of the road.

Among the Peruvians, there was anxious consultation. I felt only excitement. If only the guerrillas would stop the bus! At that instant, I was sure I could talk my way into the interview. I saw myself in the brilliant high beams, negotiating interview terms with some masked comandante. He would be wary, but intrigued. My audacity, I thought, and calm control of myself despite the havoc around me would win my exclusive. When the passengers voted to continue our journey (there being no off-duty police officers among them and all conniving landowners long since using the twice-weekly airplane route), and the driver filled the bus's tanks, I felt sharp anticipation, like a hunger about to be satisfied.

In retrospect, my plan perfectly described my ignorance. Ferociously anti-American, the Shining Path was more likely than not to . . .

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