Thursday, January 19, 2017

Review: The Dictator's Shadow: Life Under Augusto Pinochet by Heraldo Muñoz

Title: The Dictator's Shadow: Life Under Augusto Pinochet
Author: Heraldo Muñoz
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Basic Books
Publish Date: September 2, 2008
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "Augusto Pinochet was the most important Third World dictator of the Cold War, and perhaps the most ruthless. In The Dictator’s Shadow, United Nations Ambassador Heraldo Muñoz takes advantage of his unmatched set of perspectives—as a former revolutionary who fought the Pinochet regime, as a respected scholar, and as a diplomat—to tell what this extraordinary figure meant to Chile, the United States, and the world.Pinochet’s American backers saw his regime as a bulwark against Communism; his nation was a testing ground for U.S.-inspired economic theories. Countries desiring World Bank support were told to emulate Pinochet’s free-market policies, and Chile’s government pension even inspired President George W. Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security. The other baggage—the assassinations, tortures, people thrown out of airplanes, mass murders of political prisoners—was simply the price to be paid for building a modern state. But the questions raised by Pinochet’s rule still remain: Are such dictators somehow necessary?

Horrifying but also inspiring, The Dictator’s Shadow is a unique tale of how geopolitical rivalries can profoundly affect everyday life."

My Two Cents:

"The Dictator's Shadow" is a nonfiction book about life under Agosto Pinochet in Chile. It talks about how Pinochet came to power and how he was able to consolidate his power for so long. Pinochet's regime is still a regime that is studied a lot in political science. Pinochet is a hero to some and a villain to others. His rise to power is very interesting, especially for me, a person who spent a lot of time in undergrad studying Latin American history.

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about this book is the author. Heraldo Munoz served under Salvador Allende, whose government Pinochet ousted and currently serves under Michelle Bachelet. He has seen his country through many different time periods and has often been on the front lines of great change. Because of who he has worked under, there is a bit of a political bend here, which is why it may be best to have a fair understanding of Chile's political history prior to reading this book.

Munoz gives a lot of detail about what Pinochet's government was like and how people lived their lives under it. It is a very interesting history because it is not just a regurgitation of the facts. He gives a lot of context about what was actually happening to the people of Chile from everything just repeating a list of what Pinochet did. This book will appeal most to those who have an interest in Latin America history and have a basic understanding of some of its recent history.



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