Renowned author Ariel Dorfman, obsessed for twenty-five years with the malignant shadow General Pinochet cast upon Chile and the world, followed every twist and turn of the four year old trial in Great Britain, Spain and Chile as well as in the U.S., the country that had created Pinochet. Told as a suspense thriller, filled with court-room drama and sudden reversals of fortune, the book at the same time addresses some of today's most burning issues, made all the more urgent after the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001. What are the limits of national sovereignty in a globalizing world? How does an ever more interconnected world judge crimes committed against humanity? What role do memory and pain and the rights of the survivors play in this struggle for a new system of justice? But above all, the author, by listening carefully to the voices of Pinochet's many victims, explores how can we purge ourselves of terror and fear once we have been traumatized, and asks if we can build peace and reconciliation without facing a turbulent and perverse past.
Acclaimed Chilean novelist Dorfman (Blake's Therapy, etc.) offers a work slim but dense with emotion. The author follows the appeals, victories and defeats involved in Spain's, and then Chile's own, attempts to try Augusto Pinochet for crimes he committed as president of Chile in the 1970s and '80s. The tale begins when Dorfman, about to board a plane for San Francisco, first hears the news of Pinochet's detention by Scotland Yard and of Spain's call for extradition to try him for crimes against humanity. As Dorfman follows the case (listening by radio, watching live Webcasts and even sitting in the audience of the House of Lords) and leads readers through appeal after appeal, he dives deep into the history of Pinochet's ascension in 1973 and provides heartbreaking and horrific accounts of torture and murders committed by Pinochet's men under his command. All the while, with a philosophical scalpel, the author cuts away at the question, How did Pinochet come to be? How did he move from the man who, before the coup, was "servile and fawning," to the man who called for the torture and murder of people who had counted him a good friend? Though the question is never fully answered in the end, and Pinochet is not tried by either Spain or Chile (for reasons of mental incapacity), the book finishes on a positive note, citing the Serbian uprising against Milosevic as influenced by the Pinochet episode. All in all, this is an excellent, quick and powerful read, accessible to everyone.