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

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4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,822 ratings  ·  206 reviews
"A passionate, lyrical, tough-minded account of an extraordinary life in art, revolution, and love. It's a book to relish, to read and re-read. Unforgettable." --Salmon Rushdie

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, Giocond
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Paperback, 380 pages
Published October 14th 2003 by Anchor Books (first published 2000)
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4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,822 ratings  ·  206 reviews


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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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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 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 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!
Merrikay
Oct 21, 2013 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 f
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Jessica
Feb 23, 2015 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
Eren Buğlalılar
Brecht once wrote:

There are those who fight for a day
and they are good.
There are those who fight for a year
and they are better.
There are those who fight for many years
they are better still.

But there are those fight their whole lives:
These are the indispensible ones.


G. Belli is one of those who fought for many years. And alas! The cruel injustice that plagues even the revolutions. Some fight in the mountains and be tortured to death, some, such as Belli, do "international relations", networking
...more
Katherine
Dec 06, 2009 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
Diane Ramirez
Jul 02, 2009 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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Liliana
Dec 10, 2007 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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Sarah Macdonald
Jun 21, 2014 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
Milissa
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 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
...more
Sheri Fresonke Harper
Mar 31, 2015 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.
Andrea Rizzo
Sep 07, 2013 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
Jun 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
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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Sara
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must read for anyone visiting the beautiful country of Nicaragua
Sherrie Miranda
Sep 16, 2015 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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Tim
Dec 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first full book that I've read in Spanish! It was slow at first because I felt this weird pressure to look up every single word I didn't know, and since Belli is a poet there were a lot. As my Spanish got better I started being able to read more fluidly and I felt more confident about picking up stuff from context, rather than constantly combing the dictionary. (Don't worry, it's available in English translation too.)

El Pais Bajo Mi Piel (The Country Under My Skin) is the memoir of G
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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 be the same as almost all the other ones: a) political/ideological rant - b) anecdotic event - c) more political/ideological rant - d
...more
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
Sally
May 30, 2015 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 awarene
...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
Gabe
Sep 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is Gioconda Belli's autobiography- so I guess she gets to tell the story she wants. Belli was born to the Nicaraguan elite. In her early 20s, she defies her families expectations and secretly joins the nascent Sandinista movement to oust the US-backed Somosa regime. Over time, as the Sandinista movement grows, she rises to the top of its ranks all the while becoming one of Latin America's most celebrate poets. Her rise to the top, and her fight to stay there, is impressive and fascinating. ...more
Andrew
Dec 30, 2015 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
Erin
Jul 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I read this book before reading Blood of Brothers and it was an excellent book to start out with. Gioconda's telling of life during the Nicaraguan revolution was exciting. The Sandanistas were disciplined and wanted a shot at ruling their country without dictators or US intervention. Her story is told during those years with death and heartache all around. She puntuates her personal anecdoes with stories of another fallen comrade or the difficulties of balancing her work and dangerous romances.

A
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Kecia
Oct 08, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Central American history
I'm on the fence wether I liked this one or not. One the one hand the inside story of the Sandanistas was interesting but on the other hand she spent more time on childbirth than on her reasons for joining the Sandanistas. I never got a real sense of why she did what she did. The only people in the story that I developed any sympathy for were her husbands and children whom she neglected.

I finished the book with many more questions than answers...why did the Sandanistas revere a dictator, Castro
...more
David Cupples
Apr 27, 2013 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
Jeanne
Jul 20, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
I read Belli's book of fiction The Inhabited Woman in Spanish a few years ago and loved it. Reading this autobiography made me realize the many parallels between her real life and the fiction she wrote. An upperclass Nicaraguan woman who was part of the Sandinista struggle and ended up in exile, Belli is also a much lauded poet. I have read quite a bit about the different revolutionary movements in Latin America in the 70's and 80's and this book had the same effect on me as the others I've read ...more
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Hope, Ivonne, Tre: Nicaragua 1 2 Nov 16, 2017 01:55PM  
Play Book Tag: the Country Under My Skin / Giaconda Belli - 3*** 3 11 Apr 24, 2016 10:58AM  

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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
...more
“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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“Más terrible que morir es no saber para qué se vive.” 2 likes
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