One Book About Argentina Everybody Should Read

Monica from the University Committee on Human Rights Studies is coming to Buenos Aires to teach a course on human rights in Latin America this (northern) summer. She asked me to suggest books on the human rights situation in Argentina, and I didn’t have to think twice: Marguerite Feitlowitz’s A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture is far and away the best book I’ve read on the Dirty War, and one of the most gripping, if heart-wrenching, works of nonfiction I’ve encountered. No one with even the slightest interest in human rights, the mechanisms of totalitarian social transformation, or language’s potential to disorient and atomize can justify skipping this book. In case you don’t believe me, Susan Sontag’s reaction: “A magisterial work on a great subject. This is a book everyone should read.”

On April 1st, Oxford University Press released a second edition, revised and with a new epilogue that covers developments since the mid-90s. You can find it on; I promise, you won’t regret the $20.


2 thoughts on “One Book About Argentina Everybody Should Read

  1. love your blog, paul. so excited to read more now that i’m out from underneath year 1 of a lifetime of medicine. 😉 i, like you, adored feitlowitz’s work and often thought i should have just plagiarized her book in its entirety for my thesis. it is a true masterpiece. i want to read it again, but it was so powerful the first few times that i don’t know if i am able to just yet. it is so hard to believe that the events she describes so vividly happened as recently as 30 years ago.

    in other news, i’ll be in brazil all summer, so if you want a couch to sleep on, call on me! beijos

    • It’s so wonderful to hear from you, Aidan! I’m totally with you on the plagiarism thing–I mean, Marguerite would probably be flattered, right? And that’s awesome news about Brazil! Will you be heading back to Rio?

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