A harrowing firsthand look at the Salvadoran civil war and its enormous human toll.



A wrenching oral history/memoir of a Salvadoran political activist and revolutionary.

For a few years before her death from cancer in 1993, Gasteazoro recounted her remarkable stories to her friend Blankenship, who worked with Wilson to create this multilayered, affecting first-person narrative of a young woman’s radicalization during a turbulent time of repression by El Salvador’s government and military. The country’s civil war, which lasted from 1979 to 1992, resulted in 75,000 deaths. Sadly, Gasteazoro would not live to experience her country’s first democratic elections, for which she had fought. Born into a well-connected, Catholic, upper-middle-class Salvadoran family, Gasteazoro, a highly intelligent, savvy young woman with a fierce spirit and strong conscience, was essentially deprived of a university education like her brothers because her parents figured she would just get married anyway. However, as Blankenship writes, “she never married, and she never forgot the injustice of her father’s decision.” In 1977, as she and her friends were becoming increasingly aware of the intensifying political agitation and nurturing their burgeoning activism, they were horrified by the assassination of Padre Rutilio Grande, “the first important religious leader to be murdered” during that tumultuous period. As the author shows, the primary conflict was caused by a government that “accused the reform initiative of being communist inspired and ignored the fact that it mostly affected public lands.” Gasteazoro joined one of the opposition parties, and by 1979, demonstrations by activist organizations and strikes by the trade unions were met with murderous violence by the authorities. Many of her friends were “disappeared,” and Gasteazoro led a dangerous underground life until she was eventually arrested, tortured, and imprisoned for two years in the notorious Ilopango Prison for Women. Here, the details are horrific and visceral. Tragically, Gasteazoro died before she could run for political office in the 1993 elections, but Blankenship and Wilson are commended for bringing her story to light.

A harrowing firsthand look at the Salvadoran civil war and its enormous human toll.

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8173-2121-5

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Univ. of Alabama

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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