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Story of a Death Foretold: The Coup Against Salvador Allende, September 11, 1973

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On September 11, 1973, President Salvador Allende of Chile was deposed in a violent coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. The coup had been in the works for months, even years. Shortly after giving a farewell speech to his people, Allende died of gunshot wounds-whether inflicted by his own hand or an assassin's remains uncertain. Pinochet ruled Chile for a quarter century, On September 11, 1973, President Salvador Allende of Chile was deposed in a violent coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. The coup had been in the works for months, even years. Shortly after giving a farewell speech to his people, Allende died of gunshot wounds-whether inflicted by his own hand or an assassin's remains uncertain. Pinochet ruled Chile for a quarter century, but the short rise and bloody fall of Allende is still the subject of fierce historical debate. In a world in the throes of the Cold War, the seeming backwater of Chile became the host of a very hot conflict-with Henry Kissinger and the Western establishment aligned with Pinochet's insurgents against a socialist coalition of students, workers, Pablo Neruda, and folk singers, led by the brilliant ideologue Allende. Revolution and counterrevolution played out in graphic detail, moving the small South American nation to the center of the world stage in the dramatic autumn of 1973. Now the rising young scholar Oscar Guardiola-Rivera gives us a tour de force account of a historical crossroads, tracing the destiny of democracy, and the paths of power, money, and violence that still shadow Latin America and its relations with the United States.


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On September 11, 1973, President Salvador Allende of Chile was deposed in a violent coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. The coup had been in the works for months, even years. Shortly after giving a farewell speech to his people, Allende died of gunshot wounds-whether inflicted by his own hand or an assassin's remains uncertain. Pinochet ruled Chile for a quarter century, On September 11, 1973, President Salvador Allende of Chile was deposed in a violent coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. The coup had been in the works for months, even years. Shortly after giving a farewell speech to his people, Allende died of gunshot wounds-whether inflicted by his own hand or an assassin's remains uncertain. Pinochet ruled Chile for a quarter century, but the short rise and bloody fall of Allende is still the subject of fierce historical debate. In a world in the throes of the Cold War, the seeming backwater of Chile became the host of a very hot conflict-with Henry Kissinger and the Western establishment aligned with Pinochet's insurgents against a socialist coalition of students, workers, Pablo Neruda, and folk singers, led by the brilliant ideologue Allende. Revolution and counterrevolution played out in graphic detail, moving the small South American nation to the center of the world stage in the dramatic autumn of 1973. Now the rising young scholar Oscar Guardiola-Rivera gives us a tour de force account of a historical crossroads, tracing the destiny of democracy, and the paths of power, money, and violence that still shadow Latin America and its relations with the United States.

30 review for Story of a Death Foretold: The Coup Against Salvador Allende, September 11, 1973

  1. 5 out of 5

    Adrian

    Colombian journalist Guardiola-Rivera has written the first full history of Chile's coup in English. He covers Chile's history back to early 20th century showing how a coalition of Mapuche Indians, copper miners and youth set up Allende's election win in 1970. What is also clear is that this win was doomed. A program of sabotage started within the Chilean military and funded by the CIA began immediately. The hatred of Allende's program wasn't merely political for those on the right it was also a Colombian journalist Guardiola-Rivera has written the first full history of Chile's coup in English. He covers Chile's history back to early 20th century showing how a coalition of Mapuche Indians, copper miners and youth set up Allende's election win in 1970. What is also clear is that this win was doomed. A program of sabotage started within the Chilean military and funded by the CIA began immediately. The hatred of Allende's program wasn't merely political for those on the right it was also a fear of losing traditions set by the Catholic church. This is why G-R believes the campaign of torture and execution after 1973 was so severe. There is some left-wing axe grinding in here and quite a bit of discussion about whether it's possible to get social or economic justice with the system of laws in place. G-R is not clear on the age old question: was Allende shot or did he kill himself? At one point he mocks the idea Allende would have killed himself but says Patricio Guijon the first person to find Allende's body at the Palace found it in a position of suicide. It remains a mystery.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    I'm torn on this book. On the one hand, I find the historical narrative of Chile's political environment and the subsequent coup to be a fascinating story that needs to be told. On the other, the author gets completely bogged down at times by going off on repetitive philosophical tangents that seem fascinated with their own grandiosity and offer little of interest in the way of insight. Honestly, this book could have been 1/2 to 2/3 the length if it had maintained a tighter focus on the events a I'm torn on this book. On the one hand, I find the historical narrative of Chile's political environment and the subsequent coup to be a fascinating story that needs to be told. On the other, the author gets completely bogged down at times by going off on repetitive philosophical tangents that seem fascinated with their own grandiosity and offer little of interest in the way of insight. Honestly, this book could have been 1/2 to 2/3 the length if it had maintained a tighter focus on the events as they occurred with fewer of these asides. There is some obvious bias, which isn't necessarily bad in and of itself, but this bias borders on hero worship with respect to Allende. There are certainly many things to admire about the man (and especially when contrasted with Pinochet), but I have a hard time believing that he was as apparently flawless as the author is portraying him.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Daisy

    Incredibly interesting, but oh so much superfluous info - could've been half as long.

  4. 5 out of 5

    David02139

    Extremely well written book about the coup against Allende. This book dives deep into the political philosophy and philosophy of law behind the the different political groups in Chile at the time. It also gives a very good background on how Allende developed his ideas and thoughts early on. Sometimes the theory was a little hard to get through, but this book shines in how it links what happened in Chile with the current Shock Doctrine being applied through out the world. Some references that I w Extremely well written book about the coup against Allende. This book dives deep into the political philosophy and philosophy of law behind the the different political groups in Chile at the time. It also gives a very good background on how Allende developed his ideas and thoughts early on. Sometimes the theory was a little hard to get through, but this book shines in how it links what happened in Chile with the current Shock Doctrine being applied through out the world. Some references that I want to pursue: Garbriel Garcia Marquez's Nobel Prize Lecture The Solitude of Latin America The movie The Battle of Chile directed by Patricio Guzman Julio Cortazar "Fantomas versus the Multinational Vampires This book also describes the Condor Operation, which had major operations, if not based in Chile that was responsible for worldwide killings including General Prats in Argentina, Sept 76 assassination of Orlando Letelier and American citizen.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

    This is a thrilling tale about the consciousness of an entire society, the bystander effect and the challenge between societal thought and human consciousness. It is a philosophical investigation of the depth of the human and societal soul and its darkest secrets. Its characters and plot lines are complex and realistic: Highly recommended.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

    Really great account of what led up to the coup, the coup itself, and a brief summary of what followed. If you're interested in Chilean history, US meddling, or socialism, definitely read this!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    I was very much looking forward to reading this book. On one hand, I enjoyed it, but on the other, I think it could have been so much better. The author captured and reported on the larger context of the overthrow of the democratically elected leftist president of Chile. I was familiar with the story, but that didn't temper my anger as I worked through each phase of the effort to oust Salvadore Allende. The US, like it had done in Iran and Guatemala before, worked overtly and covertly to subvert I was very much looking forward to reading this book. On one hand, I enjoyed it, but on the other, I think it could have been so much better. The author captured and reported on the larger context of the overthrow of the democratically elected leftist president of Chile. I was familiar with the story, but that didn't temper my anger as I worked through each phase of the effort to oust Salvadore Allende. The US, like it had done in Iran and Guatemala before, worked overtly and covertly to subvert the voice of the electorate in another country. Supplying guns, underwriting campaigns, fostering treason by the armed forces, etc. was the main role of the US. Nixon and Kissinger, the latter a true war criminal, worked nonstop to teach the Chileans that only voices in the US counted. The US primarily feared Chile's election of Allende since he showed the socialism was entirely compatible with democracy and freedom. This was the antithesis of US propaganda and needed to be stopped at all costs lest it undermine the US's entire foreign and domestic policy foundations. Guardiola-Rivera echoes my own worry that the deification of the military and its members only leads to bad places. He also shows the impact that religion has, especially in the hands of the rightwing military and civilian propaganda groups in Chile. It was Christianity, through its Catholic instantiation, that was partly used to justify overthrowing the rule of law, arbitrary detentions and torture, book destruction, murder and genocide. On thought I had while reading the book was how some people reacted to Allende's attempt to nationalize the media in case of a coup. The assumption is that government controlled media cannot be tolerated or trusted. But, is corporately-controlled media much better? The people are still excluded from decision making and from having a voice in what is reported and what is suppressed. As for how this book could be better, I think the work lacked focus. It jumped all over the place, in time, theory and explanation of events. There was nothing drawing me through the story to hang on to as I worked through this tome. It also felt like preaching to the choir at times, based on some word choices and cited sources. I think the author nailed it and is correct on most points, but how you make that case determines what impact the work will have beyond the already converted. I think Jennifer Shirmer's "The Guatemalan Military Project" is the best work I've read on the evolution of a country from democracy and freedom on the left to dictatorship and terror by the right. Her work covered a great deal of history but I never felt lost or confused as I worked from the introduction to the conclusion.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Riley

    There is nothing that isn’t sad about the overthrow of Chile’s Salvador Allende, a democrat who, because he was also a socialist, couldn’t be allowed to remain in power by the United States. With Latin and South America, you can pick a lot of horrible meddling by the U.S. (the Spanish-American War, the coup against Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, the Cuban embargo) but Allende’s overthrow may top the list. This book is as much of a call to action as a history of what happened, which was a turnoff for There is nothing that isn’t sad about the overthrow of Chile’s Salvador Allende, a democrat who, because he was also a socialist, couldn’t be allowed to remain in power by the United States. With Latin and South America, you can pick a lot of horrible meddling by the U.S. (the Spanish-American War, the coup against Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, the Cuban embargo) but Allende’s overthrow may top the list. This book is as much of a call to action as a history of what happened, which was a turnoff for me at times. At other times, that added to its interest. From the book: “In an interview with [historian] Peter Winn, Salvador Allende had explained his view that ‘millions of people in the world want socialism, but do not want to pay the terrible price of civil war in order to obtain it.’ According to Winn, despite the final image of Allende firing the AK-47 rifle Fidel Castro had given him – defending his burning presidential palace alone against an entire army, according to Garcia Marquez’s harrowing description – Salvador Allende remained on the path of the Chilean Way until the day of his death. He remained faithful to its notions of peaceful and democratic revolution acting as restraint on the tendency to emulate the enemy and engage in reciprocal violence. “In the end Allende acted as the Chilean president who believed civil war was the worst disaster that could befall a nation, not as the revolutionary vanguard willing to sacrifice the people for his cause. As Winn observes, rather than risk the evil of civil war, the evil of imitation and the paranoia emulation of the enemy, Allende chose to risk his own life.”

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    I was unsure how to rate this (3 or 4 stars), because while there were many passages of brilliance in here, paragraphs that made me want to yell "yessssss!" thanks to the way Guardiola-Rivera connected events of the past and present in a succinct and well-pointed way, there were other sections that were a bit of a slog. I've read books of a similar length and scope which included a dramatis personae at the front of the book for easy reference, and I think such a device might have benefited this I was unsure how to rate this (3 or 4 stars), because while there were many passages of brilliance in here, paragraphs that made me want to yell "yessssss!" thanks to the way Guardiola-Rivera connected events of the past and present in a succinct and well-pointed way, there were other sections that were a bit of a slog. I've read books of a similar length and scope which included a dramatis personae at the front of the book for easy reference, and I think such a device might have benefited this book. Sometimes it was hard to keep track of who everyone was (there were a ton of people), and often new historical events would be introduced into the narrative with little introduction. I also think utilizing more section breaks would have been helpful. These were long, long chapters, and they flowed from one idea to the next with no real breaking point. Overall, though, this was an informative book about a time in history I didn't know that much about.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Riet

    Voor dit boek is wel enige interesse in politieke geschiedenis en dan vooral die van Latijns Amerika nodig. Het is goed geschreven en gaat, kort gezegd, over de verkiezing van Allende als president van Chili in 1970 en daarna in 1973 de coupe door Pinochet met steun van de Amerikanen. Vooral datlaatste is eenuiterst cynisch verhaal. Je kunt je bijna niet voorstellen, dat de Amerikanen daarmee weg kwamen. Maar waarschijnlijk gebeuren dit soort dingen nog steeds. Behalve het verhaal van Allende ge Voor dit boek is wel enige interesse in politieke geschiedenis en dan vooral die van Latijns Amerika nodig. Het is goed geschreven en gaat, kort gezegd, over de verkiezing van Allende als president van Chili in 1970 en daarna in 1973 de coupe door Pinochet met steun van de Amerikanen. Vooral datlaatste is eenuiterst cynisch verhaal. Je kunt je bijna niet voorstellen, dat de Amerikanen daarmee weg kwamen. Maar waarschijnlijk gebeuren dit soort dingen nog steeds. Behalve het verhaal van Allende geeft de schrijver ook veel over de geschiedenis van de andere Zuid-Amerikaanse landen in die tijd. Geen makkelijk boek, maar wel heel interessant.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I was looking for a book about the 1973 coup in Chile. The author does briefly discuss the facts of the coup, but that discussion is buried in lengthy discussions of leftist philosophies which I did not find helpful in understanding the events of 1973. If I had wanted a book about Sartre or Bertrand Russell, I would have bought a book specific to them and their writings. This book would have been infinitely better if the author had written a true history of the coup instead of trying to write a I was looking for a book about the 1973 coup in Chile. The author does briefly discuss the facts of the coup, but that discussion is buried in lengthy discussions of leftist philosophies which I did not find helpful in understanding the events of 1973. If I had wanted a book about Sartre or Bertrand Russell, I would have bought a book specific to them and their writings. This book would have been infinitely better if the author had written a true history of the coup instead of trying to write a philosophical treatise of leftist thought in the 70's.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Yakubu Danhassan ii

    Tells the detailed story of the rise of Salvador Allende to power in Chile, the forces that were dead set against his vision, ideology and ultimately his policies and how they used both legitimate and questionable methods to bring about his downfall. It sheds further light on the cold war mindset that made freedom and the sovereignty of nations secondary to ideological and geopolitical considerations. It also showed how that mindset combined with forces within the country to thwart democracy and Tells the detailed story of the rise of Salvador Allende to power in Chile, the forces that were dead set against his vision, ideology and ultimately his policies and how they used both legitimate and questionable methods to bring about his downfall. It sheds further light on the cold war mindset that made freedom and the sovereignty of nations secondary to ideological and geopolitical considerations. It also showed how that mindset combined with forces within the country to thwart democracy and ensure that Chile was solidly in America's orbit.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Goldenberg

    A slight disappointment as I find the coup that overthrew Chilean president Salvador Allende in 1973 a fascinating period of history. The problem here is too much research and information about the minutiae of Chilean politics in the 20th century leading up to the coup. Therefore, by the time we get to the event itself, it falls a bit flat. Allende himself comes across as a strong and principled character who refused to adopt the mantle of Marxist dictator and meet violence with violence. The rol A slight disappointment as I find the coup that overthrew Chilean president Salvador Allende in 1973 a fascinating period of history. The problem here is too much research and information about the minutiae of Chilean politics in the 20th century leading up to the coup. Therefore, by the time we get to the event itself, it falls a bit flat. Allende himself comes across as a strong and principled character who refused to adopt the mantle of Marxist dictator and meet violence with violence. The role of the US government and the big corporations remains a disgrace to this day.

  14. 4 out of 5

    John

    The author doesn't just chronicle "the first 9/11," he also places the sad tale into a global, and non-first-world, context. For example, he emphasizes the "northern" view, popular in U.S. government and corporate circles, that "history doesn't happen in the south." This book is a difficult read, however, because of the (often over-) complicated and tangled syntax: sometimes the subject of a sentence is six lines long.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Wesley

    You need a pretty sizable background in Chilean, and European history to get the full effect of this book. Some parts are a slog to get through, but are important in setting up others. Then, other parts of the book are brilliant.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stan Smith

    I read this because I realized I didn't know a whole lot about what was happening in Chile. I remembered Orlando Letelier being assassinated in D.C. in the '80's but not understanding the context. This book has all the context and more, but the style is a little turgid and pedantic.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cristina

    intriging

  18. 4 out of 5

    Vikas Datta

    A masterpiece in all senses.... no more words needed to describe it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Robert O'neal

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sandeep

  21. 5 out of 5

    J Pound

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lawrence A

  23. 5 out of 5

    Matthieu Miossec

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tony

  25. 4 out of 5

    Penelope Spuds

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lotte

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jimi (Jimi Can Read)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

  29. 4 out of 5

    Darragh Kelly

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chris Putman

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