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Paradise in Ashes: A Guatemalan Journey of Courage, Terror, and Hope (California Series in Public Anthropology)

Paradise in Ashes: A Guatemalan Journey of Courage, Terror, and Hope (California Series in Public Anthropology)
Author: Beatriz Manz
ISBN 13: 9780520246751
ISBN 10: 520246756
Edition: 1st
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: 2005-08-10
Format: Paperback
Pages: 330
List Price: $29.95

"Manz captures one of the most tragic periods of Guatemalan history with truly extraordinary insight, intimacy and brilliance. Myrna Mack, her friend and colleague, was murdered by the military, but ultimately the epic story of these isolated areas could not be extinguished. This outstanding, courageous and committed anthropologist has given us a precious gift in these pages—a masterpiece that is sure to become a classic of this troubled time."—Helen Mack Chang, President of the Myrna Mack Foundation and recipient of the 1992 Right Livelihood Award, also known as the "Alternative Nobel Peace Prize."

"Much more than the ethnography of a beleaguered village in Guatemala, Paradise in Ashes is about how international politics, in this case, the Cold War, played itself out within a culture that is every bit as 'foreign' as that of Iraq or Afghanistan. Combining a lifetime of uncommonly solid scholarship with a lively, accessible style, Manz has produced a genuine landmark, blending the local with the global into a compelling new approach to problems that continue to bedevil our world."—Lars Schoultz, author of Beneath the United States: A History of U.S. Policy Toward Latin America

"Manz reads the larger political, national, and international contexts into the gripping and nail-biting horror stories she tells about the life, death, and rebirth of Santa María Tzejá, a tough little village in Guatemala to which she is emotionally and politically bound for life. More than any anthropologist of her generation Manz is both ethnographer and compañera."—Nancy Scheper-Hughes, author of Death without Weeping: the Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil

"Paradise in Ashes is a masterpiece. Written with a lucid and sensitive anthropological eye it is a work of scholarly and literary excellence. There is no happy ending to this remarkable, revealing story. Nonetheless, the strength, courage and hope of the Mayans, poignantly revealed by Beatriz Manz, makes this, after all its horrors, an up-beat, even inspiring, story. Manz brings back to us the best, the most illuminating of the legendary Latin American anthropology."—Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, Mexico's ambassador to the United Nations, and member of the Security Council

"Beatriz Manz has written a moving chronicle of Guatemalan villagers who have endured unspeakable injustice, yet remarkably look to the future with hope. This splendid book is a beautifully written human story that is framed by the passions and devastating consequences of the cold war. The narrative is a testament to the power of public anthropology and a must read for those concerned about the marginalized of the South."—Isabel Allende

"The violent overthrow of democracy in Guatemala in 1954 by the army, with CIA backing, spelled the end of FDR's 'good neighbor' policy.
In its stead, cold war ideology transformed Guatemala into one vast death camp. No wonder President Clinton apologized to the victims of that genocide. Beatriz Manz, as both an anthropologist and a human being, gives us the precise account of the high price of a political mistake."—Carlos Fuentes

"No one could have written this book but Beatriz Manz: she understood the villagers in the most perceptive of ways, and she gained their trust. Her passion and lifetime of dedication to Guatemala shine through as she brings alive these exceptional human beings and the fire they walked through. Paradise in Ashes is an extraordinary achievement and a defining document of this genocidal period."—Rigoberta Menchú Tum

Publishers Weekly

Studies of genocide, military repression and the victimization of Latin American peasants tend to be ordeals for all but the most dedicated reader, full of stultifying statistics and harrowing violent incidents. But this account of the settlement, destruction and rebuilding of a single Guatemalan village, Santa Maria Tzeja, is as emotionally enveloping as an Isabel Allende novel. Manz, a Chilean anthropologist, did over two decades of field work in the Mayan highlands and rain forests, and her deep familiarity with her subjects allows them to emerge as characters with individual hopes, dreams and sophisticated political goals. Santa Maria Tzeja was founded as a farming cooperative in the 1970s by intrepid Mayan and Ladino peasants seeking to escape the crushing debt peonage of the lowland plantations, but precisely because of its remote highland location, it was caught in the crossfire of the Guatemalan civil war. In 1982, after several years of escalating violence and intimidation, the village was brutally destroyed in an army raid retaliating against villagers' involvement with the guerrillas. From then on, the community was split, and Manz was often the only link among former inhabitants; some had fled to a refugee camp across the border in Mexico, while a remnant submitted to authoritarian "reorganization" by the military. Through interviews (and 23 b&w photos), villagers like Edwin Canil, a young boy who lost his entire family in the 1982 raid, or Rose, whose husband was "disappeared" by the army, reveal their struggles to uphold and return to their ideals of community, honor and independence through land ownership. Manz, a vivid and capable writer, is thoughtful about the contradictions inherent in her chosen discipline of "political anthropology," which turns out to include activism and advocacy as well as the humanization of those who too often suffer anonymously. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.