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The Massacre At El Mozote (Classics Of Reportage)

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  782 ratings  ·  69 reviews
In December 1981 soldiers of the Salvadoran Army's select, American-trained Atlacatl Battalion entered the village of El Mozote, where they murdered hundreds of men, women, and children, often by decapitation.
Published August 1st 2005 by Granta Books (first published April 1st 1994)
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the depravity of the US during the Cold War.

The US had one objective in the Cold War: Stop Communism! It did not matter what tactics the governments we gave billions of dollars to used to "secure" that objective - it only mattered that countries in Latin America and Africa fell into non-Communistic hands.

Sign the check and don't ask questions. Don't worry about the death tolls, or who has gone missing. Ignore intelligent reports from El Salvador that say an entire village has been destroyed al
Feb 10, 2013 Adam rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Adam by: Jason Brozek
Massacre at El Mozote is an extension of a New Yorker article, so it's fairly short and not particularly dense. It chronicles the course of the Salvadoran civil war leading to the massacre and the response by the US government to the news. It's a standard Cold War imperialist atrocity narrative - the US gave arms, advice, and training to the Army of the military junta government to keep them in power against a popular rebellion supported by the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, who presumably had someth ...more
A little under two years ago I witnessed the first ever change of government in El Salvador as the people voted in the leftist FMLN party over ARENA, the rightest who had ruled the country for its entire existence. At the time, I believed that the threat of a leftist Chavez-type victory would be dangerous here in El Salvador. I also believed that the left would bring little of the promised change. Now, I can say that only one of those was actually true. The government has made little changes but ...more
When I was a college student, I majored in Latin American Studies, and many of my classes explored the functions of the military in various Central American countries. In my junior year, I joined up with a bus full of strangers from Austin, and we headed to Georgia for an annual protest designed to force the closure of the School of the Americas (later renamed the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation). We gathered early one morning with hundreds of like-minded activists, and we ...more
Extensively investigated and thoroughly detailed, this human rights disaster was brought to my attention only recently for a graduate course in human rights. For this massacre to have happened under the administration of a certain "Gipper" further casts a darkening shadow over the legacy so many people (*cough* conservatives) have been tripping over themselves to praise. What should we protect more? Political ideology or innocent human lives? More attention should be paid to El Salvador as it is ...more
Kevin Gross
This book chronicles the worst atrocity that has occurred in Central America: the massacre of 767 non-combatant civilians in December, 1981 by the Salvadoran army in the village of El Mozote, and likely many more victims whose remains did not permit counting. Not a dramatic narrative, the author focuses on telling the facts preceding the situation, the event, and the denial and obfuscation by both the Salvadoran regime and the US government that poured six billion dollars into supporting the reg ...more
David Bales
Next time someone is gushing about Ronald Reagan, you might refer them to this book written in the '90s about a massacre at a mountain town called El Mozote, near the Honduran border in El Salvador, where in December, 1981 the American-trained Altacatl Battalion of the Salvadoran Army massacred several thousand people, men, women, children, old people, even farm animals, in a wild bloodletting that was supposed to "drain the sea" of guerrillas fighting the Salvadoran government. This "offensive" ...more
The defining work on the El Mozote massacre, Danner's work is carefully and precisely argued and presented. It's hard to defend the actions of the Salvadoran military at El Mozote, but Danner maintains his credibility by at least acknowledging that the reason behind the massacre -- scaring the campesions countrywide into staying away from the guerillas -- is rational, though barbaric and inhuman. In contrast, the Reagan administration's seemingly willful ignorance of the facts of the massacre is ...more
Tia Malkin-fontecchio
I assign this book to undergraduates and graduate students in my state terrorism and US-Latin America classes. It is written for a general audience and is very accessible. An added bonus is that all of the military reports and government cables mentioned in the book are included in the appendix. I am always shocked to find that students are completely ignorant of what happened in El Salvador in the 1980s, especially in terms if the US role. The book would benefit from a new edition. It could use ...more
In sum:

The atrocious, injustice events in Morazan were horrible. But, the story's presentation doesn't earn 4 or 5 stars. The presentation of the story was very choppy.

In Long:

Yes, the events were horrendous, but I think the author did a hasty job in pasting the story of the event. There was no preface to guide readers towards the literary prose of the book. Hence, it was difficult to differentiate who's first person or third person voice was seeping through the words.

It's completely understa
El Salvador's civil war in the 80s featured a number of massacres. This is the story of one of them. Nearly an entire village is slaughtered over the course of the day. One of the few survivors - few as in less than ten - Rufina Amaya tells portions of the story but the bulk of the book is context of the war in El Salvador and US involvement.

This is not easy reading. People are brutally killed over long periods of time and pages. It is worth reading though for people who are interested in Latin
This book looks at a forgotten bit of the Cold War in 1980s Central America. In December, 1981, a US-trained battalion of the army of El Salvador entered the town of El Mozote, and surrounding hamlets, and systematically murdered everyone; over 700 people were killed.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Salvadoran army was in bad shape. There were numerous examples of guerrillas joining the army to get some military training, then intentionally deserting to join the rebels. The army was poorly-trained an
Nathan Oates
I read this book as research for something I'm writing, having long ago read a chapter of it in the back seat of a friend's car while traveling in Guatemala. The book is essentially investigative journalism that attempts to uncover what actually happened in a small El Salvadoran village during the civil war. The writing is crisp and smart and the long chapter describing the massacre was terrible and vivid and painful to read (that's the chapter I read years ago in the back of my friend's car, an ...more
Arpad Lep
Baby on a bayonet. This book will horrify and enrage in equal measure. Weird to say, but thrillingly written with a surprisingly satisfying last two chapters. Truth can be stranger than fiction. I am glib and curt because you have to distance yourself from the reality of this book. Everything in it happened. And everything in it is utterly heartbreaking.
Ben Baker
During the Cold War, the US created a habit of supporting numerous fascist regimes in Latin America. This book details the US relationship in regards to an atrocity that occurred in El Mozote in El Salvador. Post 9/11, George W. Bush stated that "if you fund a terrorist, then you're a terrorist" the same case can be made about funding fascists.
Aug 26, 2008 John rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: yes
I feel somewhat mixed about how much I liked this book given its extremely grave subject matter--a massacre of near 800 people in a small town in El Salvador during the early days of the civil war here.

The author successfully puts the massacre in its context within the cold war and specifically, within the politics at the time in the USA which heavily supported and trained the battalion that commited this massacre.

With only about 200 pages of text before the notes and annex section, this engagi
Some good research on an important story, especially in revealing and promoting knowledge of the horrendous murder of innocents by US trained and backed Salvadoran military against their own citizenry, as well as official denials of deplorable actions done largely on our behalf; but the writing was poor and Danner definitely could have used a much stronger editor. There were times when I thought to myself that this must have been a first draft. Still, it is worth reading, though there is room fo ...more
Thaisa Frank
The Massacre at El Mozote is a deeply-researched book about the massacre at El Mosote village in El Salvadore. Danner is a brilliant journalist, one who can write clearly about facts and who also has literary gifts in creating a sense of time, place and scen that are objective. Using dialogue from both victims and perpetrators, he provides countless details about the massacre at El Mazote, never lapsing into the propagandistic, manipulative or maudlin. An exercise in impeccable journalism. And a ...more
Danner provides what many consider to be the definitive account of the slaughter that took place in a small village in El Salvador in 1981. I'd have to agree with such sentiments. Danner focuses on the events up to and during the massacre, and also discusses the rather pitiful U.S. response/cover-up attempt. The narrative itself is a bit short, but the appendix includes a trove of documents, including parts of the Truth Commission Report, that make for very interesting reading. Though sad, it is ...more
While the story is written in a choppy fashion this story is an account of the atrocities that took place in El mozote, I had the privilege of visiting El Mozote seeing the bullet holes in the houses, the memorial to all of the people slaughtered during this murder campaign during the Cold War. The book is very detailed and provides an understanding of a horrible situation which was essentially swept under the rug by the Salvadorean government for a very long time until one woman who had the cou ...more
Mike Scarbrough
Another country victimized by the cold war - El Salvador. It is always the poor who suffer the most. I don't have much to add. I initially gave it the four stars of "really liked it", but bumped it up to five stars in recognition of the rigorous due diligence of research, sourcing, and documentation. Would it be so that the Department of State, the congress, and the Wall Street Journal, as illustrated in the book - at least in regard to the atrocities - had the same desire for truth seeking.

A su
Your tax dollars at work.
Felix Medina jr.
Jul 28, 2014 Felix Medina jr. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the Cold War
Haunting and nightmarish. The Salvadoran army did some unspeakable things. And the U.S. had a hand in funding and ignoring the atrocities. U.S. politicians turned it into a war of ideology, words and stats-ignoring the human rights violations that occurred. This book shed some light for me about the Cold War, and the U.S.'s deep rooted fear of communism and the lengths they were willing to go to squash it. Unfortunate that many of the men that participated in the massacre were allowed to walk aw ...more
I learned a lot of very unpleasant details of that massacre, and also a lot about its context. I picked it up in Georgia at the School of the Americas vigil, and it put me in appropriately morose spirits for the event.
My favorite part was a description of Radio Venceremos, a pirate radio station for campesinos and guerillas in El Salvador, particularly those affiliated with the FMLN. Made me better appreciate the awesome power of that medium.
Damn. Reading books like this just make me hate Reagan more than ever. I'm used to reading about atrocities, but sometimes this was hard to get through. I really appreciate the thoroughness of Danner's account and the way he really takes the U.S. to task for both its aiding of the Salvadoran regime and its pathetic attempt to investigate the massacre. The one thing I would have liked more of was a political backgrounder on the situation.
Jul 23, 2007 Eleanore rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is an incredibly moving book that I would recommend to anyone. The story is gruesome and at times very hard to take, but it needs to be exposed. The kind of brutality that existed and still exists in many other parts of the world cannot be ignored, nor can the active role of the U.S. in many of these atrocities. Read this with a buddy, because you will need someone to talk about this with.
Jul 12, 2007 Dani rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Salvadoran history
This book was a journalistic look into the events leading up to the masscare at El Mozote in December of 1981. Though the jargon was a bit boring at times, overall, to know that such a large-scale massacre almost slipped through the cracks is just amazing. Thanks to the efforts of the sole survivor, Rufina Amaya (may she rest in peace), this story will not be forgotten.
Bob Bingham
This is a good book (expanded from a magazine length feature previously published) on one aspect of the war in El Salvador, and the US State Department's unwillingness to confront the Salvadoran government in the early 80s with its war crimes, while continuing to push for more military aid to the Salvadoran Army (which committed the atrocities in El Mozote).
Natali Barnes
Sad story before the civil war in my country . One of the biggest violation of civil rights of all times .
this is a fascinating account of the most notorious massacre of el salvador's decade-long civil war. there is nothing uplifting about this book, but its historical value is immense--especially its emphasis on the role of the reagan administration in funding and providing political support to the right-wing government of el salvador.
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