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A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  282 ratings  ·  19 reviews
"We were all out in la charca, and there they were, coming over the ridge, a battalion ready for war, against a schoolhut full of children." Tanks roaring over farmlands, pregnant mothers tortured, their babies stolen and sold on the black market, homes raided in the dead of night, ordinary citizens kidnapped and never seen again--such were the horrors of Argentina's Dirty ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published October 7th 1999 by Oxford University Press (first published April 16th 1998)
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Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read this 10 years ago; decided that I might as well give it a re-read after reading the John Simpson book.

This one is set in the mid-90s, just 10 years after Simpson's, so it's interesting to see the context in which members of the military were protected from prosecution by an amnesty law. I'm glad to learn from Wikipedia that the law was revoked in the early 2000s and that quite a few prosecutions for war crimes have happened since then.

This is a much more academic text than Simpson's; I ski
I agree with most of the other reviewers that as a whole A Lexicon of Terror Argentina and the Legacies of Torture is a well-researched exploration into Argentina's Dirty War. The testimonies obtained by Marguerite Feitlowitz are incredible. I spent a few months in Argentina in 2008, and it's incredible to think of how different the country was only a few years ago, and that some of these struggles are still going on.

My one criticism is perhaps the title. My understanding of the premise of the
Dec 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anti-fascists
Recommended to Jesse by: Dr. Kim
This is the most terrifying non-fiction horror I've read in a long time. It recounts the 'Dirty War' in Argentina of the 1970s by analyzing the language used by the torturers, their victims, and Argentine society during and since. Basically, European Fascism survived World War Two by escaping to Argentina. The Dictatorship kidnapped, tortured and murdered over 30,000 people suspected of 'subversion'. Say the wrong thing about the government (or be in the wrong place at the wrong time), and the s ...more
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wow! It can happen anywhere!
Aug 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A must read for those who want a better insight into one of Argentina's darkest periods: The Dirty War. Feitlowitz brings the reader through the vocabulary, the thought process and the places of the Dirty War. The issue of torture is discussed at length along with an analysis of the legacies of the Dirty War after the end of the military dictatorship. Readers get insights into both the tortured and the torturers, into the families of the disappeared, into the Jewish victims of the war, into the ...more
Will Dean
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very well-researched, extremely frightening, and heartbreaking history of Argentina's Dirty War. The first third of the book focuses more on the use of language by the junta and survivors of torture, while later parts of the book are more about survivors' attempts to give testimony and get justice, recognition and information from the government, military and catholic church.

An important book both for its historical and linguistic value, but also as a record of the horrors that can happen in a
Dena Landon
Jan 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: booksiveread
An excellent study of the Dirty War of Argentina, this book examines (through interviews with survivors, articles in the press at the time, and speeches of the Generals) the use of language and the impact upon common vernacular of the terrors perpetrated by the army during this time. A slim volume, it is a worthwhile read for any lover of language, as the author carefully illustrates how 'democracy,' 'citizen,' and 'freedom' came to mean something different in the hands of those in power. I foun ...more
Roberta Tabanelli
Oct 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book to start learning about the 1976-1983 Argentine dictatorship. Then, if you speak Spanish and have a multi-system DVD player, search for this film: "Garage Olimpo" (1999) by Marco Bechis. One of the best films on those years. Unfortunately, it has not been released in the US (so, it's not NTSC format and has no English subtitles). No rhetoric, like in Feitlowitz's book - no torture scene. But it's a punch in your stomach. In an interview, Bechis stated that "Memory is the only i ...more
Mar 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010, school
a stunning account of the history and aftershocks of Argentina's Dirty War. feitlowitz writes with conviction and clarity - every sentence is beautiful and devastating. rarely have i read a book that has brought me to tears. this one does. i find myself amazed at how complicit i feel, just in reading about the Process. and yet for all the horror here, feitlowitz never loses sight of the best that people have to offer one another. a grim but necessary reminder that the most important things we ca ...more
Dec 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: argentina, favorites
A fascinating read. A history of Argentina's Dirty War and a look at the language that promoted, defended, and maintained it. What impresses me most about this book is the sheer amount of research by the author, the numerous interviews of survivors and perpetrators. One can't help but be moved. Highly recommended.
Oct 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
carefully crafted and terrifyingly informative. if there ever were something to read about desaparecidos' continued disappearing and how it became/was/is 'unspeakable'--from cultural, political, human rights, and linguistic perspectives--well, this would be it.
Jun 25, 2007 rated it liked it
Horrendous subject approached with concision and piety. The general data are accessible while the study on the rhetoric of Argentine fascism is as bizarre and nightmarish as anything out of Bret Easton Ellis. I could not have written Transference without this book.
Danielle Fogerty
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book about Argentina's dirty war, I am going to look into more books about it.
Allison Corbett
Oct 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking and horrific, but enthralling and necessary for an understanding the period of state-sponsored terror in Argentina in the last few decades of the 20th century.
Lydia Danae
Mar 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
Disturbing but important book. A bit rambling and unfocused at times.
Nov 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a fascinating perspective on an unsettling, eye-opening, horrifying subject. Read for Modern History of Latin America class.
Jul 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Words are so powerful!
Jun 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Bloody History. Heart-breaking
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