983: The Dictator’s Shadow by Heraldo Munoz

by Gerard


983.065: Munoz, Heraldo. The Dictator’s Shadow: Life Under Augusto Pinochet. New York: Basic Books, 2008. 314 pp. ISBN 978-0-465-00250-4.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 980: History of South America
  • 983: History of Chile
  • 983.06: Period of later republics, 1861 to present
  • 983.065: Period of military rule, 1973-1990

Following a US-backed coup d’etat to overthrow Salvador Allende in 1973, Commander-in-Chief of the Army Augusto Pinochet became the totalitarian leader of the country of Chile. He ruled with an iron fist for the next seventeen years, rounding up political opponents and dissidents, until he opened the country to democracy and was defeated in an election in 1990. Heraldo Munoz, former Chilean Ambassador to the United Nations and survivor of both the Allende and Pinochet governments, brings to light the day-to-day struggle during the country’s period of military rule in The Dictator’s Shadow.

You can tell Munoz is working through a lot of issues in this book. He recalls mass executions of political dissidents and diligently tries to tie their deaths directly back to Pinochet. While Pinochet died in 2006 and the country has been more or less democratic for the last 25 years, there is still a lot of healing to do in Chile. On its face, it’s a political memoir and Munoz tries to place the history of Chile in a greater global context, but each detail, each event, and each vote cast brings it back to the personal. This book is decidedly biased, but Munoz gets to tell his tale just like everyone else. Supporters of Pinochet will scoff and flail while modern citizens enjoy the new Chile. An interesting and eye-opening book.