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The Country Under My Skin: A Memoir of Love and War

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4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,253 Ratings  ·  163 Reviews
An electrifying memoir from the acclaimed Nicaraguan writer (“A wonderfully free and original talent”—Harold Pinter) and central figure in the Sandinista Revolution.

Until her early twenties, Gioconda Belli inhabited an upper-class cocoon: sheltered from the poverty in Managua in a world of country clubs and debutante balls; educated abroad; early marriage and motherhood.
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Paperback, 380 pages
Published October 14th 2003 by Anchor (first published 2000)
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Harry Rutherford
The Country Under My Skin is a memoir of the Nicaraguan revolution. Belli grew up in a wealthy family but joined the Sandinistas, working secretly for the resistance until she had to flee the country and live in exile until the Sandinistas took power and she could return to Nicaragua. It’s not just a political memoir, though; it is also the story of her marriages and love affairs.

She is clearly a remarkable woman — an award-winning poet, incidentally, as well as everything else — and it is fasci
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Aubrey
What was it that enabled people to give their lives for an idea, for the freedom of others?
I made the mistake of starting this close enough to the onslaught of my winter school session to make an eight day work take two months, but now that I know I'm capable of dipping back into something over such a stretched period, it's since become a valuable experience. It would have been one even without my inadvertent multitasking exercise supreme, for when someone like me is able to check off autobiog
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Book Concierge
From the book jacket: An electrifying memoir from the acclaimed Nicaraguan writer … and central figure in the Sandinista revolution. Until her early twenties, Belli inhabited an upper-class cocoon: sheltered from the poverty in Managua in a world of country clubs and debutante balls; educated abroad; early marriage and motherhood. But in 1970, everything changed. Her growing dissatisfaction with domestic life, and a blossoming awareness of the social inequities in Nicaragua, led her to join the ...more
else fine
It happens to all of us. You meet someone - at a party, maybe, or a coffee shop - someone so beautiful you feel slightly blinded, and when you try to talk it just comes out all garbled and stupid. Your hands twist and your heart constricts, like you're trying to curl up into yourself for safety. I feel like that about this book. Rendered stupid and inarticulate, cut to the quick. Her story goes beyond the particulars of one time and place to say something profound about the universal experience ...more
Maxy.kai
Jan 26, 2013 Maxy.kai rated it it was amazing
Seriously what a great book. Amazing woman. Giving it to all my friends for their birthdays, you've been warned!
Dani
Jul 12, 2007 Dani rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book empowered me to forward thinking. This is great feminist, political and historical literature. Gioconda Belli writes in such a way that the reader feels that their traveling down memory road alongside the author. A great book and difficult to put down, The Country Under My skin is a very worthwhile book to read. Viva la Revolucion!!! Hasta la Muerte!
Jessica
Apr 24, 2015 Jessica rated it really liked it
All memoirs should be written by internationally reknowned poets; it makes them such a sumptuous read. I’m always interested to learn about world news and history from the inside, rather than through the lens of the US spin, and Belli definitely offers that perspective on Nicaragua. She’s earnest and naive, often unaware of her privilege, but still likeable. She happened into being a sandinista more than she made a conscious political statement, and her privilege may have insulated her from a tr ...more
Merrikay
Oct 21, 2013 Merrikay rated it it was amazing
This is an intriguing memoir of a woman born into the Nicaraguan upper class, whose experiences and insights cause her to join the Sandinista revolution, work in the Ortega administration, marry an American reporter from NPR and move to Santa Monica, California. What a fascinating life and what multiple perspectives she develops through these experiences.

I have recently read memoirs of other women revolutionaries from Cuba and Russia among others, and have developed more of a knowledge base for
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Katherine
Mar 13, 2012 Katherine rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Spanish readers
Recommended to Katherine by: Ricado
I would definitely make this more of a 4.5 out of 5 stars. This was such a beautiful personal account of Gioconda Belli's journey into Sandinista activism and love affairs with multiple intellectual figures that drove many of her life decisions. One of the best factors of what made this story so precious was really her writing style, and I did read this in Spanish. I heard the English translation doesn't leave the same impression, but for those who can do it, please read the Spanish version. I l ...more
Liliana
Dec 17, 2007 Liliana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing memoir by a totally fearless Nicaraguan woman who was/is a revolutionary, guerrilla fighter, poet, novelist, lover, and mother of four...An extraordinary human being. Beautifully told, I read it in the original Spanish, it's available in English as "The Country Under My Skin: A Memoir of Love and War" by Gioconda Belli and Kristina Cordero. I'd be curious to see how the translation into English turned out.

I had read her novel Mujer habitada/Inhabited Woman many years ago and loved it
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Diane Ramirez
Jul 22, 2009 Diane Ramirez rated it liked it
Gioconda is a writer of great talents and a compelling story -- she was intimately connected with the Sandinista revolution from the beginning of the 1970s. However....

I get the feeling this wasn't the best way for me to discover her. What started out as a surprised "she knew EVERYBODY!" became, after so many chapters, a near parody of a revolutionary memoir. Gioconda Belli knew everybody, apparently every male she encountered (including presidents and generals) found her irresistible, she alway
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Sheri Fresonke Harper
Mar 31, 2015 Sheri Fresonke Harper rated it really liked it
I bought this book before going to Nicaragua recently and just finished it. I enjoyed hearing about the Somoza/Sandinista era. It feels odd to see my country as a villain. The feminist take on the revolution was interesting, as does the reactions of various women. This memoir though feels very personal, despite the historical aspects.
Milissa
Jan 09, 2009 Milissa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
i first saw this book (the english translation - the country under my skin) while working at a bookstore. the cover both intrigued and repelled me. a machine gun, a crucifix on a necklace, highheels and cartoon palm trees on a t-shirt. ultimately, i think it was the high heels that kept me a way. a couple years later, upon meeting my brother-in-law to-be, he presented me with a book by his aunt. a book about his nicaraguan roots. the book? el pais bajo mi piel. belli is passionate, daring to do ...more
Nic
Oct 23, 2008 Nic rated it really liked it
An easy to read account of life in Nicaragua just before, during and after the Sandanista revolution in 1979.

Gioconda relates her story as only someone both on the inside of a political upheaval and an artist can. That makes it an interesting story revealing both her romance with the revolution and her disillusionment. It is not a historical text and is limited to the perspective of just one person, but at the same time, much more entertaining and personal because of the real life confusion and
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Sherrie Miranda
Sep 16, 2015 Sherrie Miranda rated it it was amazing
5.0 out of 5 stars A Memoir That Reads Like A Novel! Outstanding!, September 16, 2015
By Sherrie Miranda "Sherrie Miranda"
Verified Amazon Purchase

This review is from: The Country Under My Skin: A Memoir of Love and War (Paperback)
I thought I had long ago written a review for this great memoir. After all I used Belli's understanding of the struggle for a character in my novel.
I apologize for not posting this sooner, especially since I read it in just a few days as it was full os suspense and stead
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Sally Tarbox
Jun 01, 2015 Sally Tarbox rated it really liked it
Shelves: autobiography
"What was it that enabled people to give their lives for an idea, for the freedom of others?",, 2 June 2015

This review is from: The Country Under My Skin: A Memoir of Love and War (Paperback)
The Sandinistas and the Contras were just words to me, and I wondered whether this autobiography of a woman who became a Nicaraguan revolutionary would be readable. Well, it certainly is: the author's account of her fascinating life - from privileged daughter of a well-to-do family to an increasing awarenes
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Sarah Macdonald
Jun 24, 2014 Sarah Macdonald rated it liked it
I have mixed reactions about this book. On one hand, it is a unique perspective on the Sandinista movement from someone who knew their inner workings. Also, we rarely hear of the women's involvement in such revolutions, so it's an even more intriguing perspective. However, I found Belli herself to be a privileged, name-dropping narcissist whose personal life was horrifyingly shallow. As she demonizes those she cheated on to justify her many affairs, and glosses over the fact she was largely abse ...more
Terry
Always a treat to read a memoir by someone with real writing skills who can put a life in context with history around her. Belli's life reminds me of other revolutionaries who have been the propagandists for the cause who have then seen the cause falter in the hands of the leaders who sought individual power over power for the people. The contrast, for me, between Belli and those such as León Trotsky and Milovan Đilas, is the obvious one between a woman and the men but also that Belli acknowledg ...more
Andrea Rizzo
Sep 25, 2013 Andrea Rizzo rated it really liked it
I read this book just before my first trip to Nicaragua. It was a good primer on what life was like before and after the earthquake, but more importantly, all about the revolution from an insider's perspective. The fact that the author was a feminist and poet made it even more fascinating.
Shira Reiss
Jul 19, 2015 Shira Reiss rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book!! "The Country Under My Skin" is an autobiography written by a famous Latin American poet and Nicaraguan Sandinista revolutionary. She is a romantic, practical idealist, grounded visionary and author of paradoxes who sees life in all its fullness.

This book gave a point of view from a woman who was intimately and deeply involved in the Sandinista revolution to oust the dictator, Samoza, the 1972 horrendous earthquake in Managua, meeting Castro as well as the post re
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Travis
May 31, 2015 Travis rated it liked it
Ms Belli is a fascinating woman. She is full of passion, courage, intellect, and guile. She is or was at some point a fugitive, rebel, adultress, mother, poet, and bureaucrat. Any discussion of her in a review would be far too simplistic.

Reading the memoir is well worth the time especially if you have any exposure to Nicaragua or its culture. I thought she was too dismissive at times of her own faults (for example when she decried any possibility of her home not being the ideal location for her
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MJ  Brummitt
Mar 04, 2015 MJ Brummitt rated it it was amazing
I read this fascinating book whilst spending two months living, traveling and studying Español in Nicaragua. I wanted to learn more about the Sandinista Revolution. What better resource than Gioconda Belli's well written memoir of love and war? To be honest, I didn't pay glued attention during the years of conflict here and I definitely needed to fill my tank of knowledge about the goings-on in this charming country.

Both sensual and devoted, Belli is an excellent and intriguing commentator on he
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Andrew
Jan 31, 2016 Andrew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Revolutions are not usually literary affairs. Sure, they are written up afterwards by the history books and victors but such hagiographic accounts largely follow a clear narrative to a predetermined conclusion. All too often, such events appear a fait accompli with the ease of hindsight. This is largely because the authors of such accounts usually only surface after the events in question and have little direct interaction with the main protagonists. Such is not the case in this account. Giocond ...more
Jenn T
Jan 11, 2016 Jenn T rated it really liked it
I read this book during a trip to Nicaragua because I wanted to learn more about the country I was visiting. Gioconda helped me to understand more about the history of her country from the 1960s through 1980s as Nicaragua struggled through decades of war. The book enhanced my understanding of the Sandinista War, and America's involvement, from the perspective of a local Nicaraguan woman who joined the Sandinistas. I enjoyed her mix of political, poetic, and romantic passion throughout. Would def ...more
Adriaan Jansen
Jun 06, 2015 Adriaan Jansen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
''Más terrible que morir es no saber para qué se vive'' (pag 326).

Revolución. Casi no hay palabra que más ha entusiasmado los ánimos en América Latina a la acción política que revolución. Y con razón: Muchos países de Latinoamérica han tenido que aguantar dictaduras horribles que no estaban dispuestos a abrir un camino a una sociedad más justa y más libre. En muchos casos, la revolución era la única manera de convertir en realidad los sueños de libertad y justicia.

También Gioconda Belli ha dedic
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Gijs Grob
'De verdiging van de Liefde' is een autobiografie, niet zozeer van de schrijfster Gioconda Belli, alswel van de Sandinista Gioconda Belli. In dit boek is Belli voornamelijk revolutiestrijder, en wanneer de Sandinisten worden weggestemd bij de eerste vrije verkiezingen van Nicaragua in 1990, eindigt dit boek ook.

Belli is ongelooflijk lyrisch over haar revolutionaire periode. Niet dat ze deze kritiekloos beschrijft - ze beoordeelt zichzelf hier en daar als naïef en kijkt soms met lichte verbazing
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Oscar Calva
I usually don't drop a book and leave it unfinished, even books I don't like. This is the first one in a long time I won't be going back to finish even though I read through almost three quarters of it.

It's not that "The Country Under my Skin" is horrendous, I've read worse, but I don't see any point continuing wasting my time knowing the rest of the chapters will continue the same as almost all the other ones here: a) political/ideological rant - b) anecdotic event - c) more political/ideologic
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Ria
Gioconda Belli komt op haar 20ste in contact met de Sandinistische verzetsstrijders van Daniel Ortega. Ze sluit zich aan bij het FSLN, de partij van de Sandinisten. Vijf jaar lang doet ze werk voor het verzet in Nicaragua, maar in 1975 moet Belli vluchten naar het buitenland. Tijdens haar ballingschap verblijft ze in Costa Rica en Mexico. Bij verstek wordt ze door het regime van dictator Somoza veroordeeld tot zeven jaar gevangenisstraf.[return]Vlak voor de overwinning van de Sandinisten in 1979 ...more
Michelle
Mar 12, 2012 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just before starting this book I was thinking that I wanted to read more memoirs. I don't know a lot of details about the revolution in Nicaragua. I read a book over a decade ago about the Sandanistas and all I can really remember about it is that things didn't exactly turn out as promised. The book was written in Spanish, I read the translated version, which at times did not seem to flow. The first hundred pages or so were harder for me to get through. Another book club member who read it in Sp ...more
David Cupples
Apr 27, 2013 David Cupples rated it it was amazing
Read as part of my research for a major writing project. Good reading if you want to know more about life and times in Latin America, specifically Nicaragua, especially during the Sandinista Revolution, which was finally successful in 1979, and especially too from a woman's point of view. You can believe without a shred of a doubt that that was a big worry to US government--a second successful revolution to follow on the heels of Castro's overthrow of the Batista dictatorship in Cuba; the Contra ...more
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Gioconda Belli (born December 9, 1948 in Managua, Nicaragua) is a Nicaraguan author, novelist and poet.

Gioconda Belli, partly of Northern Italian descent, was an active participant in the Sandinista struggle against the Somoza dictatorship, and her work for the movement led to her being forced into exile in Mexico in 1975. Returning in 1979 just before the Sandinista victory, she became FSLN's int
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“Dare to change the world

There is nothing quixotic or romantic in wanting to change the world. It is possible. It is the age-old vocation of all humanity. I can't think of a better life than one dedicated to passion, to dreams, to the stubborness that defies chaos and disillusionment.”
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“For me, the Revolution sought to end mistreatment, not to democratize it.” 1 likes
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