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The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop?

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  634 Ratings  ·  104 Reviews
Bishop Juan Gerardi, Guatemala's leading human rights activist, was bludgeoned to death in his garage on a Sunday night in 1998, two days after the presentation of a groundbreaking church-sponsored report implicating the military in the murders and disappearances of some two hundred thousand civilians. Realizing that it could not rely on police investigators or the legal s ...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Grove Press (first published 2007)
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(showing 1-30)
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Claire Jefferies
Three stars isn't really accurate, though. I'd give this one between a 2.5 - 3 for the writing - it felt cumbersome and overwritten (if I were Goldman's editor, red ink would be bleeding through these pages). It's a complicated story-line and Goldman didn't do the best job of narrating in a way that made it any less complicated. He jumped from character to character, story-arc to story-arc, in ways that just made it even more difficult to follow. And holy crap, the characters in this book. He di ...more
Joseph Raffetto
Mar 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Goldman has the ability to face unpleasant facts. And this is an important story that reveals Guatemala's history of military rule and corruption. I almost gave this a three-star rating because, despite the compelling subject matter, it's definitely not a page turner.
Jul 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Be forewarned: "The Art of Political Murder" is a thinking man's page-turner. Although author Frank Goldman's novel has a plot too thick for some readers, but that is the point: the nature of crime in Guatemala, especially politically-motivated crime, is complicated and opaque. This is why whodunits are more interesting for their descriptions of the intellectual authors of murders instead of the guy who pulled the trigger. And nothing could ring more true when it concerns murder in Guatemala.

Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Es uno de los mejores libros de investigación que he leído. Yo estaba en Guatemala cuando asesinaron a Gerardi y recuerdo muy bien los comentarios en los periódicos al respecto de este caso, tal y como lo describe F. Goldman. Habían algunas dudas que me habían quedado al principio del libro que se resolvieron de manera sutil al final del mismo. Me gustó mucho la descripción y narrativa del mismo. Se nota que es un libro de investigación seria. Además, es realmente desolador darse cuenta lo que s ...more
Iván Mendoza
Es brutal la cantidad de información volcada por este libro, pero más brutal y revelador es el hecho de cómo la impunidad se ha instaurado en todo el sistema de justicia guatemalteco.
Eleanor Cowan
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Author Francisco Goldman's courageous nine year study of the murder of Guatemala's Human Rights Activist Bishop Juan Gerardi shows the refusal of power addicts, terrified of their own vast emptiness, to harness their avarice. This is a detailed study of planned, orchestrated evil made possible only because of the obedient co-operation of the groomed, the passive and the threatened. It's always like that. A strong reminder to me to speak up when I see injustice or abuse - any time, anywhere. Othe ...more
Mar 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is novelist Francisco Goldman's true crime investigation report of his seven years of interviewing and researching the ever stranger labyrinths at whose center is the murder in 1998 of Guatemalan Human Rights Activist Bishop Juan Gerardi, by bludgeoning, in the garage of his Parish. This comes two days after the Bishop and a group of young secular and Church people called The Untouchables formed by the Church has revealed at a press conference the first two volumes of a four volume report o ...more
Kathy Selvaggio
Jul 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have really admired this author ever since I read his first novel, The Long Night of the White Chicken. He writes compassionately and intelligently about Guatemala, his mother's homeland, but always with a tremendous sense of the injustice and abuse that has visited that country for far too many years. This book investigates the 1998 murder of one of Guatemala's prominent Catholic bishops, a human rights defender, directly after a report documenting the abuses of the past two decades was publi ...more
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Como está de moda, "aprovechando la coyuntura", leí este libro que estaba entre mis muchos pendientes por leer.

Largo y denso, por momentos casi surreal, y narrado magistralmente, me parece que es uno de aquellos libros que todo guatemalteco debe leer. Como todo, se puede o no estar de acuerdo con el autor, pero es importante informarse y ver otras perspectivas.

Mucho que hablar sobre este tema... mi sugerencia es: lean el libro.
The Guatemalan army killed a Catholic bishop in retaliation for his work against the criminal army. Difficult to imagine how to live in such a corrupt country.
Dec 04, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-written account of the 1998 assassination of the auxiliary bishop of Guatemala. Thanks to Annie Harnett for recommending it.
Vince Tuss
More like 3.5.
May 24, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, activism
Incredibly detailed, story of a priest who is murdered in Guatemala, and looking into the how & why, esp the why. DNF
Vince Darcangelo

This review originally appeared in the ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS

The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop?
Vince Darcangelo, Special to the Rocky

Published September 28, 2007 at midnight

• Nonfiction. By Francisco Goldman. Grove, $25. Grade: A

Book in a nutshell: Guatemala. 1998. Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera, an outspoken critic of the government's history of human rights abuses, is beaten to death inside his church parish house. The murder occurs two da
Oct 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding book. A Guatemalan/American novelist/journalist returns to Guatemala to follow the endlessly twisting turns in the case of the murder of Bishop Juan Gerardi. Gerardi was responsible for publishing a lengthy controversial report on what really happened during the Guatemalan civil war. Just two days after his report was published, Gerardi was brutally murdered at the Parish house.

The book reconstructs gradually reconstructs the crime, as the author leads readers through the winding lab
Jul 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book. Francisco Goldman is a beautiful writer and he somehow navigates the lives of many characters and the complicated intertwined interests of the case of Bishop Gerardi's murder, introducing unfamiliar readers to the vast and complex relationships between military, church and state in Guatemala. I learned a lot about Guatemala's recent history through this book, and gained a basic grasp of the interests at stake in the investigation of a case like this one.

I was disappoin
Aug 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is much I can say about this book, but the bottom line is: buy this book and read it. Repeat: buy this book and read it.

The Art of Political Murder is as taut and scary as the best murder thriller-whodunit, and it's all real. It recounts the April, 1998 bludgeoning of Bishop Juan Gerardi at his home in Guatemala City, and the subsequent efforts to find the killers and bring them to justice. But this is not a simple episode of Law and Order; it's a full-bore examination of the ruthless and
Greg Bascom
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book details the murder of Bishop Juan Gerardi in Guatemala in April 1998 and the ensuing nine years of investigation and prosecution of persons complicit in the killing. The author, a journalist born in Guatemala but working in New York, also wrote three novels. THE ART OF POLITICAL MURDER reads like, and is as engaging as, a mystery thriller. But the characters, plot, twists, intrigues and horrors were provided by the Guatemalan oligarchy, not the author’s imagination.

The bishop’s murder
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Een halve eeuw lang had de clandestiene wereld van de militairen ondoordringbaar geleken. De zaak-Gerardi had nu een pad door die duisternis geopend. (pg 354)

In 1998 wordt Bisschop Gerardi doodgeslagen aangetroffen in zijn garage. Vanaf het begin wantrouwt de Katholieke kerk de onderzoekers van de politie. Gerardi was namelijk een belangrijk persoon die het REHMI-rapport naar buiten hadgebracht. Een rapport waarin het Guatemalaanse leger wordt beschuldigd van massamoorden op en verdwijningen van
Jordan McPeek
Who would want to live in Guatemala after reading this book? It seems that anyone interested in the pursuit of justice is putting their life and the lives of their loved ones at risk. Police officers, reporters, protestors, clerics, prosecutors, judges - routinely threatened with death, many go into exile, others are tortured and killed. Talk about pressure. This is the kind world we live in fear of should organized crime take over. Yet in Guatemala those who are in power are behind it. The peop ...more
Dec 19, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Francisco Goldman has an important story to tell as too many of us have little knowledge of what is happening within the borders of our Latin American neighbours. His book, The Art of Political Murder, is very informative regarding the recent history of Guatemala, focussing primarily on the murder of Bishop Juan Gerardi in 1998 and the prosecution of the perpetrators. He tells the story of the investigators who pieced the crime together, the lawyers who risked their lives to prosecute the hereto ...more
The exploration of the crime, the investigation and the trial were really interesting, but the last part, describing all of the appellate processes was less interesting. It really is depressing to think of all of the times the US government has supported dictatorships and nearly genocidal regimes only in order to oppose Communism. The crimes that have been committed in the name of protecting the free world are so atrocious when they are viewed in the lens of what was really threatening freedom a ...more
I was really conflicted about this book. The best way to describe it is that it's a screed, albeit an interesting and educational one. A Guatemalan bishop is murdered days after the Catholic Church's report (which he was a primary author of) on Guatemalan military murders was released. This book follows the Church's lawyers as they, in concert with the state attorneys, prosecute several military officers along with another priest.

Reading reviews after the fact, this book is apparently a respons
Apr 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly researched and insightful, this is, by far, the best book that I have read on contemporary Guatemala. Beyond the analysis of the case itself, it is a window into the structures of corruption, deception and power that continue to hold the country hostage to this day.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of reading this account is, for me, walking the streets of Guatemala and seeing some of the most powerful characters represented as leading candidates for the upcoming elections. That the
Nov 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
one of my top five books. this is such an enveloping story - as good as any fictional mystery, chock full of intrigue and populated with extraordinary characters, but as relevant and as beautifully rendered as any journalism i've read. but more than that, it's the story of a team of sharp, dedicated lawyers and investigators who waded their way through a maelstrom of false leads and threats of violence, took on a deeply-entrenched military kleptocracy and managed to do something unprecedented in ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Three-time novelist Francisco Goldman's commitment to telling this true-crime tale shines on every page of The Art of Political Murder. Goldman spent years researching the case, often braving dangerous places and people in order to interview key witnesses. Many of the people he spoke with for the book ended up dead, in exile, or "disappeared." With the exception of the Los Angeles Times, critics uniformly praised Goldman's insightful exploration of Guatemalan political corruption and media manip

Aug 11, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very convoluted story involving layers of politics, military, and culture, as well as an extremely large cast of characters. I found the background and detailed look at the culture, history, judicial system, and history of Guatemala to be personally valuable (and heartbreaking); without that personal connection, I do not know if I would have stuck it out through the entire book. As a whole this was a very slow and arduous read for me. I think part of that is due to the nature of the st ...more
Jun 09, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The blurb on the front speaks of this book as ultimately hopeful, but I found its story of the murder and cover up of a Guatemalan bishop to be depressing and pathetic. It portrays Guatemala as a seemingly bottomless pit of corruption, violence and chaos, incapabable of changing itself, and only worsened by American and other western "assistance." Scary that this place is so geographically close to the US, if even half the stories in this book are true. Its also very hard to follow, as the are a ...more
Dec 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is the best political thriller (of book length) I've ever read, a true story that puts the novelists to shame. Although the prose sometimes drags a little and the cascade of names and conflicting stories can be bewildering, the author leads the reader down the rabbit hole into a Guatemalan world of murder, sex, power, and conspiracy. The cast of characters is unforgettable, from the menacing Limas to the erratic Father Mario to the crusading Helen Mack, but the real star of the story i ...more
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Francisco Goldman is an American novelist, journalist, and 'maestro', at Fundación Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano (FNPI), the journalism school for Latin-America created by Gabriel García Márquez. Goldman is also known as Francisco Goldman Molina, "Frank" and "Paco".

He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to a Guatemalan mother and Jewish-American father. His first novel, The Long Night of White Ch
More about Francisco Goldman...

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