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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 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 system to solve the murder, the church formed its own investigative team, a group of secular young men in their twenties who called themselves Los Intocables (the Untouchables). Known in Guatemala as “The Crime of the Century,” the Bishop Gerardi murder case, with its unexpectedly outlandish scenarios and sensational developments, confounded observers and generated extraordinary controversy. In his first nonfiction book, acclaimed novelist Francisco Goldman has spoken to witnesses no other reporter has reached, and observed firsthand some of the most crucial developments in the case. Now he has produced The Art of Political Murder , a tense and astonishing true detective story that opens a window on the new Latin American reality of mara youth gangs and organized crime, and tells the story of a remarkable group of engaging, courageous young people, and of their remarkable fight for justice.


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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 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 system to solve the murder, the church formed its own investigative team, a group of secular young men in their twenties who called themselves Los Intocables (the Untouchables). Known in Guatemala as “The Crime of the Century,” the Bishop Gerardi murder case, with its unexpectedly outlandish scenarios and sensational developments, confounded observers and generated extraordinary controversy. In his first nonfiction book, acclaimed novelist Francisco Goldman has spoken to witnesses no other reporter has reached, and observed firsthand some of the most crucial developments in the case. Now he has produced The Art of Political Murder , a tense and astonishing true detective story that opens a window on the new Latin American reality of mara youth gangs and organized crime, and tells the story of a remarkable group of engaging, courageous young people, and of their remarkable fight for justice.

30 review for The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop?

  1. 5 out of 5

    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 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 did provide a summary at the end, but I couldn't keep the players straight most of the time. I felt like I was reading One Hundred Years of Solitude. However, I'll give this book between a 4 and a 4.5 for the content, because I learned a whole hell of a lot about how throughly corrupt Guatemala is, and how much the US has aided that corruption throughout history. I can't stop thinking about specific images, gruesome images, of violence so horrible it's hard to comprehend. As someone who generally thinks that most people in the world are good, I have to admit that reading this book makes me question that (and my naivety).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    Oscar Romero wasn't the only bishop of the Roman Catholic Church murdered by those most likely working for the entrenched oligarchy in modern Central America. But while Romero was killed while saying Mass in San Salvador, a shocking event that drew headlines around the world, Bishop Juan Gerardi was beaten and left for dead on the floor of his garage. A group of dedicated and courageous young men and women, realizing that the crime would go not only unpunished but would be barely investigated by Oscar Romero wasn't the only bishop of the Roman Catholic Church murdered by those most likely working for the entrenched oligarchy in modern Central America. But while Romero was killed while saying Mass in San Salvador, a shocking event that drew headlines around the world, Bishop Juan Gerardi was beaten and left for dead on the floor of his garage. A group of dedicated and courageous young men and women, realizing that the crime would go not only unpunished but would be barely investigated by the police, decided to solve it themselves. This lead them into a shadowy world of vicious street gangs, corrupt police and military leadership and shocking revelations about how post-civil war Guatemala is really run.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jean-Marie

    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, 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. "The A 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, 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. "The Art of Political Murder" is a template for understanding similarly-motivated crimes, whether in Central America or elsewhere. It is also a cautionary tale for those naive enough to believe that the rule of law prevails there.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    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 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 process can tolerate their presence is a measure of how deeply-rooted Guatemala's problems are, and how much work is still needed if it is to become a truly free and democratic country. However, there is a hopeful aspect to this story as well: it is heartening to read about the truly courageous young Guatemalan activists, lawyers, judges and journalists who risk everything in the pursuit of truth and justice. It is with individuals like these that hope for the future rests. This is an absolute must-read for anyone attempting to make sense of the patterns of violence that surround those of us living here.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Selvaggio

    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 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 published by a church human rights office which he directed The cast of characters can be confusing, and I was halfway through the book before I realized that there was an appendix listing the characters' names and affiliations. I read this book just before visiting Guatemala again for the 3rd time, and I must say it spooked me a bit. But it is moving and wrenching account of the awful history of this beautiful country.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Martha

    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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Eleanor Cowan

    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 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. Otherwise, my silence is their permission. Thank you so much, Mr. Goldman. Eleanor Cowan, author of : A History of a Pedophile's Wife: Memoir of a Canadian Teacher and Writer

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    great read and fascinating plot if it were fiction, but a little horrifying reading into the Guatemalan military and justice system and reminding myself that these are true events, crimes, and people. In any case, a well written book!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    Very overwritten, as other reviews have said. Offers a decent insight into aspects of recent Guatemalan political history but was really bogged down with unnecessary, confusing detail.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Vince Darcangelo

    http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news... 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 http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news... 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 days after Gerardi publishes a report documenting Guatemalan military abuses since the 1960s, and the timing of his murder suggests that it was government retaliation. Novelist Goldman's The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop?, his first work of nonfiction, documents the controversial and perilous investigation following Bishop Gerardi's murder - no easy task, as more than a dozen people connected to the case were murdered throughout the investigation. The end result, though, is a sliver of justice that - hopefully - sets the foundation for future human rights progress in Guatemala. In capturing the nuances of this investigation, Goldman (who has familial ties to Guatemala) has penned an exhaustive tome covering all angles of the case down to the finest detail, even identifying the brand of dog food being fed to an imprisoned German shepherd implicated in the murder. (Yes, a dog was initially implicated in the murder!) Best tidbit: "The more shocking the crime, it seemed, the more powerful or powerfully connected the criminals, and in Latin America powerful people almost never end up in prison." Pros: Goldman is like a paleontologist reconstructing a T. Rex from a small handful of fossils, including a few bones tossed in as red herrings. His access to inside information, garnered at great personal risk, provides a thorough account of one of Guatemala's most infamous murders. Cons: Early on, Goldman throws numerous characters and heavy doses of Guatemalan history at the reader. While this provides excellent cultural context, it's difficult to keep track of all the characters at first, and the back stories and historical asides often come at the expense of the narrative flow. Final word: Goldman is a journalist's journalist, and the amount of investigative legwork involved in producing this book, and the risks thereof, is staggering. This is an impressive book in its breadth, but it may be a bit daunting in detail for a mass audience.

  11. 4 out of 5

    david-baptiste

    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 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 on their investigation into the tortures, disappearances and murders of over 200,000 Guatemalan citizens, primarily indigenous peoples, and the forced exodus of over a million refugees. Besides the ubiquitous Central American presences of the CIA and the Israelis, who built a munitions plant for the slaughtering Army, there are youth gangs and organized crime involved in a a series of states-within-states of interlinked corrupt circles of power and extreme brutality. The book is written in a terse, edge-of-your-set style, laying detail by detail the stones in the walls and steps in the ever descending winding spiraling stairway of this journey into the depths upon depths of the circles within and below circles of an Inferno. Beneath each circle there is another, and another, and another, and-

  12. 4 out of 5

    cscb

    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 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 solving the murder of a tireless human rights advocate and investigator, prosecuting some of the highest level planners and perpetrators, and take a small, but truly meaningful step in the right direction for guatemala's justice system. goldman thoroughly and fairly examines all competing accounts of the crime and does a phenomenal job of tying the episode to the broader history of the country. you can't read this book and not be inspired to dig deeper.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jenny M

    A well-written account of the 1998 assassination of the auxiliary bishop of Guatemala. Thanks to Annie Harnett for recommending it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Yesenia Marenco

    The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop? Francisco Goldman In, “The Art of Political Murder,” (2007) Francisco Goldman heads to Guatemala to unravel the mysterious murder of a Roman Catholic human rights advocate, Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera. This story gives the reader the construction of a crime and opens a door to a misunderstood country that has a history with anarchy. Goldman also provides an unpunctual indictment to ruthless criminals who were not just behind the murder, but also The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop? Francisco Goldman In, “The Art of Political Murder,” (2007) Francisco Goldman heads to Guatemala to unravel the mysterious murder of a Roman Catholic human rights advocate, Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera. This story gives the reader the construction of a crime and opens a door to a misunderstood country that has a history with anarchy. Goldman also provides an unpunctual indictment to ruthless criminals who were not just behind the murder, but also contributed to an eternity of cruelty. I’ve always been a fan of the mystery genre with books, but I’ve never read something so real until this book. Goldman succeeds to get me invested with the many characters that all had some sort of involvement with the murder or a connection to someone who contributed to it. Characters who did bad things in the past also had their many reasons for their behavior, and there were characters who seem to be good but also had many things hidden about them which kept me torn throughout the book, trying to figure out who truly was the person involved in the Bishop’s murder. One thing I enjoyed a lot about this story is how descriptive everything is, like a character’s appearance which helped me envision them or the structure of a building. There are many different perspectives of the night of the Bishop’s murder from different people, but somehow I was still able to feel an atmosphere that was the same for every different side of that story. I also like how, when a character in the book says something in spanish; the author translates it in parentheses. It’s something small and not that big of a deal, but I thought it was really cool how the author still left in the original spanish dialogue, which made the story felt more authentic. It also made me understand the character more and their behavior based on the way they talked, such as, with slang or many swear words. There was a very descriptive part of the book, that gave me a bit of chills and sweaty palms. This is the violence part of the story. Guatemala has a lot of history with violence, and there was a part of the book that told some of these brutal crimes that’ve been done in the past. In fact, just two days before the Bishop was annihilated, he had released a four-volume report on the civil war that formally ended in 1996. The Bishop made this report hoping it would avoid any more crimes in Guatemala. Yet, his murder turned out to be a crime which is still so crazy to me. Another point I wanna make was how mysterious this book was, like there was a character multiple people saw the night of a murder; some random shirtless man who I believe was walking away from the parish house (the location of the murder). It was really interesting because some people thought they knew who the man was, but in the end I think he was never identified. Another part that also connects to violence in this story was when one of the killers, Obdulio Villanueva managed to escape prison for a couple of hours to complete the crime. He was serving a sentence for a previous murder. I also think this shows the way the country was run in the past, and how out of order many things were. Crimes were so common back then because they were constantly happening, that I believe that back then hearing that a murderer escaped prison to kill somebody else is very weird and unsettling. Overall, I thought this book was a very good read, and people who’re interested in nonfiction, crime, or history will really enjoy this story. I don’t read books that often, and this was a story I had to read for school which I don’t really enjoy, but this time I will say that I had a good time reading this book. I’ll give it 4/5 stars because I think it deserves it, and also because I’m just genuinely a very nice person. “The Art of Political Murder” is a memorable and chilling story that’ll leave readers on the edge for sure. While there are factors some people may not understand like the environment of Guatemala or how things were back then or some of the companies mentioned, like ODHA, or being able to keep up with the amount of information, pacing and characters, I do believe that a reader will be able to capture the atmosphere of this book and will be invested with the characters, plot and overall investigation of the murder as well.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Sanders

    The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop by Fransisco Goldman, published in 2007, is a work of many Guatemalan political ordeals. Bishop Juan Gerardi of the San Sebastián church in Guatemala was murdered in the parish house garage. This book provides detailed information about Guatemalan history including politics, government, and military. I really enjoyed this book because it wasn’t just your typical historical fiction book. They talked about Guatemala’s corrupt presidencies, and a w The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop by Fransisco Goldman, published in 2007, is a work of many Guatemalan political ordeals. Bishop Juan Gerardi of the San Sebastián church in Guatemala was murdered in the parish house garage. This book provides detailed information about Guatemalan history including politics, government, and military. I really enjoyed this book because it wasn’t just your typical historical fiction book. They talked about Guatemala’s corrupt presidencies, and a whole bunch of other events that I had no clue even happened. I don’t normally read historical fiction books, so this was definitely a step outside of my comfort zone. Historical fiction is usually pretty uninspiring for me to read because it just sounds like facts written out on a page, but this book was different. The author actually took part in the investigation of the murder. He mentioned that his mother once owned the San Sebastián church before Bishop Gerardi started working there. Goldman traveled from New York, where he lived at the time, to Guatemala to visit and start interviewing people Bishop Gerardi was close to, while making sure to journal everything. I would have to give this book five stars. The only thing about this book was that there were so many characters and acronyms, so it took me a while to understand what some of the paragraphs were saying, but I feel like if Goldman cut some of the characters out, the book wouldn’t be the same and wouldn’t get its point across as clearly. This book talks about Guatemala’s hardest times and what happened behind the scenes, in which not many people knew went on. If you are looking to challenge yourself within your reading, for an account of a heartfelt story of a murder, and an insight into political corruption, then this is the book for you.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Antonio Nunez

    Goldman’s book is one of the best based on on-the-ground reporting I have read. It tells the story of the murder of Guatemala City Auxiliary Bishop Juan José Gerardi in April 1998, two days after the release of the report “Guatemala: Never Again” by the Recovery of Historical Memory Project, which he directed to look into the historic responsibilities for hundreds of thousands of murders during the dirty war that kicked off in 1981 when Efraín Ríos Montt was president and persisted into the mid- Goldman’s book is one of the best based on on-the-ground reporting I have read. It tells the story of the murder of Guatemala City Auxiliary Bishop Juan José Gerardi in April 1998, two days after the release of the report “Guatemala: Never Again” by the Recovery of Historical Memory Project, which he directed to look into the historic responsibilities for hundreds of thousands of murders during the dirty war that kicked off in 1981 when Efraín Ríos Montt was president and persisted into the mid-nineties. The history of the Bishop’s murder is a fascinating who dunnit why he dunnit. It was very ingeniously conceived and very competently executed and it involved people at the very top of the power structure, including people who continue to be powerful into our own days. Goldman also shows the links between top military and police and the transnational Mara crime syndicates. But he also portrays the good people who strive to bring justice to a land blighted by its lack. It is also very well written. A definitive “READ!”.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

    An incredible work of prose and journalism that takes the chilling murder of Bishop Gerardi and elevates the account above true crime, entering into the psyche of a people. By engaging in individual accounts and the labyrinth of tales people tell themselves and are willing to tell each other a multi-layered, troubling picture arises. The complexity of a society scarred by conflict, conquest, uncertainty, and impunity still manages to bring forth imperfect people willing to fight and troubled peo An incredible work of prose and journalism that takes the chilling murder of Bishop Gerardi and elevates the account above true crime, entering into the psyche of a people. By engaging in individual accounts and the labyrinth of tales people tell themselves and are willing to tell each other a multi-layered, troubling picture arises. The complexity of a society scarred by conflict, conquest, uncertainty, and impunity still manages to bring forth imperfect people willing to fight and troubled people ready to hide their knowledge forever to protect themselves for just a moment longer. The narrative sweeps you through the author’s experiences, discoveries, and ruminations in a way that unifies rather than unravels this complex picture while avoiding the cheap theories and leading the reader to better understand this society through all that remains unsolved and unproven at the end.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bethsabe Andia

    This is a great book, so well written. It is a report on the murder of Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera (1922-1998) but it has the virtue to really face the corruption and chaotic power in the hands of all military personel and authorities. I am a researcher about Guatemala armed conflict and I have read a lot about this topic, anyway I found in this book new angles to approach to the problem, at the same time I know now the extreme complexity of the case of bishop Gerardi, that after reading it is This is a great book, so well written. It is a report on the murder of Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera (1922-1998) but it has the virtue to really face the corruption and chaotic power in the hands of all military personel and authorities. I am a researcher about Guatemala armed conflict and I have read a lot about this topic, anyway I found in this book new angles to approach to the problem, at the same time I know now the extreme complexity of the case of bishop Gerardi, that after reading it is more clear to me and give me a good inside about the whole political situation in Guatemala.

  19. 5 out of 5

    umang

    Extremely detailed, much like Goldman's 7+ part NYer series on 43 disappeared students in Ayotzinapa. Read over a long period of time and thus especially hard to follow. The excerpt in the NYer was an exceptionally interesting read and would suffice for most, though the mystery is not yet solved at its writing. But one is also left wondering if it ever was...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bharat Krishnan

    There is some really engaging stuff in here, but ultimately it was way too long and read too much like a news article than a compelling piece of narrative non-fiction. I learned a lot about Guatemala and the book was gripping at points, so not a total loss by any means. I would have liked to give it 5 stars.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Johnny

    Dense and extremely readable. This rounded out my Guatemala reading list, and was a departure from the three books about the wounds of war towards how those resulting scars of war created a new political landscape apart from the war itself. The system was never flushed out, and from what I can tell, it’s still septic. That said, the fact that this book even exists it something.

  22. 5 out of 5

    T.E. Wilson

    This book is now somewhat dated, and it's a complicated story, but Goldman does a masterful job of weaving the threads together. A must for anyone interest in Guatemala, or the politics of Latin America, but not sure if it would appeal to a larger readership.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Eli

    Heartening and depressing, simultaneously. The first for the idea that no matter how corrupt, dangerous, and hopeless a country seems, its people can fight for it and bring back justice. The last because it can always happen here.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cherie

    Incredibly detailed, story of a priest who is murdered in Guatemala, and looking into the how & why, esp the why. DNF Incredibly detailed, story of a priest who is murdered in Guatemala, and looking into the how & why, esp the why. DNF

  25. 4 out of 5

    Piper Strzelecki

    This book describes a very important event and gives a glimpse into the flaws of the Guatemalan justice system. I found it hard to follow because of all the people involved in the case and the fact that the journalism wasn’t exactly chronological

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    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 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 labyrinth of false decoys, misleading evidence, trials, subsequent crimes, and so on. It is worth noting that to this day, many dispute Goldman´s conclusions, particularly as they are quite damaging to prominent Guatemalan politicians. Regardless, this book is a masterful piece of journalism that at the same time exceeds mere journalism and becomes a gripping tale of crime, catholicism, social scandal, and a fascinating porthole into the sort of society the U.S. helped create with its interventionist foreign policies in Central America. For readers from the U.S., Goldman´s analysis near the end of the book stands out as a striking warning of how current U.S. military (mis)adventures abroad are going to turn out: Half a century after the United States intervened in Guatemala and created the modern Guatemalan Army, and after the United States supported armed forces of similar character in El Salvador and Honduras through decades of conflict, those three countries had this in common: they were societies that had some of the highest murder rates in the world, and in which the powerful and well connected act with impugnity. After 36 years of internal war and ten of so called democracy and peace, Guatemala´s best hope for warding off the choas of a totally failed state still lay in the creation and enforcement of an independent legal and judicial system. Functioning democratic institutions -- hadn´t these been promised in exchange for an abruptly altered national destiny and all the violence and death that ensued whenever the United States intervened in another country? If such a project could´t be achieved in a speck of a country like Guatemala, how could it be achieved anywhere else? -- Page 340, paperback edition.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    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 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 disappointed when the book ended, however, because there were still so many unanswered questions. Obviously, that's because there are still many unanswered questions in the case that may or may not go on unanswered forever. But Goldman set up foreshadowing and dangling questions throughout the narrative with the implication that he would in some way tie them up at some later point in the book. For many of these dangling issues, that never happened. We never found out more about Father Mario's perspective? And there was little analysis of what exactly the motives were in this crime. "Why would the Army have killed the bishop two days after the release of the report?" is a question Goldman poses but never quite addresses. For me, the motives behind the crime were eclipsed by the intertwined lies and cover ups. The book carries the tone of a fly-on-the-wall journalist (albeit an extremely knowledgable one with incredible access to the case), who tirelessly describes everything that went on. Maybe the omission of clear conclusions was a safety measure for Goldman, who surely must have felt endangered himself by his close participation and contact with all the case's stakeholders. More likely, the confusion and lack of clarity on most questions was natural and intrinsic to this case. He never clearly discounts any of the other accusations and theories that were put forth, although it's clear he does not support them. The personal friendships that Goldman clearly had with the investigators in this case make him an ideal teller of this story. The cliffhanger at the end leaves us wondering what happened with the "second stage" of the judicial process.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mateo

    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 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 lawless terror that is an everyday part of life in a country where paramilitary death squads, politicians, and official police units work hand in hand to protect their own corruption. While Guatemala is ostensibly a democracy today, shadowy, right-wing death squads, often made up of members of official special-forces units, work hand-in-glove with drug-running gangs to stifle dissent, free speech, and any investigation into their brutality. As the book follows the investigation, it is by turns--almost page-by-page--terrifying and life-affirming; one shrinks in horror at the brazen sadism of the faceless murderers who threaten the journalists, judges, lawyers, and human-rights workers trying to solve the murder, and one also is filled with admiration for those same investigators and their stupendous will to see justice served. It is a most sad and hopeful book that should keep you on the edge of your seat. It also shows that human rights matter. One of the reasons that the investigation even occurred in the first place is that the Clinton administration made sure that the American Embassy supported the efforts of the human-rights workers. This was in clear contradistinction to the behavior of the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, which tacitly and publicly supported right-wing regimes. One caveat: avoid the Dramatis Personae and Chronology of Events sections in the back; they're very useful but can spoil the plot.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Greg Bascom

    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 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 appears to be in retaliation for the publication of the REMHI report, the result of the Archdiocese survey of atrocities committed by the Guatemalan Army during the 36 years of internal war. But a smokescreen of alternative motives emerges along with the intimidation of witnesses, lawyers, prosecutors and judges, forcing many of them to flee the country. Goldman weaves an easily understandable narrative and structure for the nearly 200 named players in these intrigues. For easy reference, appendices provide a list of the primary persons involved, a timeline, the author’s sources and notes and an index with page references for all individuals mentioned. THE ART OF POLITICAL MURDER vividly portrays army officers accustomed to impunity, judicial officials fearful for their families and the terrified, street-smart indigents who know what really happened to the bishop. In relating the arrogance and fears of the adversaries, Goldman enlightens us on the long conflict between the wealthy Guatemalan oligarchy and most everyone else in a country where the army directly or indirectly controlled the government for decades. As a bonus, read this book to understand why President Bill Clinton, in February 1999, apologized to the Guatemalan people for the United States having supported the Guatemalan Army during the past fifty years.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Brien

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Update (April, 2016): Even better the second time! Original Review (August, 2012): Goldman relates the story of the murder of Bishop Gerardi, a priest in the Archdiocese of Guatemala City and the leader of one of them most important human rights groups following the civil war peace accords were signed in Guatemala i 1996. Just a few days after his organization published an in-depth, name-providing book that detailed many of the atrocities of the civil war (i.e., massacres, rapes, disappearances, Update (April, 2016): Even better the second time! Original Review (August, 2012): Goldman relates the story of the murder of Bishop Gerardi, a priest in the Archdiocese of Guatemala City and the leader of one of them most important human rights groups following the civil war peace accords were signed in Guatemala i 1996. Just a few days after his organization published an in-depth, name-providing book that detailed many of the atrocities of the civil war (i.e., massacres, rapes, disappearances, murders, torture, kidnappings), Gerardi was murdered one night after pulling into his garage. Goldman painstakingly presents the details of the case, the sham and corrupt investigations, the 'real' investigation, the trial, and some of the political aftermath of the murder. He details how the suspects changed from a gang running stolen Church goods, to a German shepherd dog, to a non-existent gay lover, and finally to the actual murderers (elite members of the Guatemalan Army, including, possibly, current high-ranking officials). The depths of the corruption and danger surrounding the case (and most of Guatemala's judicial system in the late 90s and early 2000s) is astounding. Time after time, judges, prosecutors, witnesses, and investigators were forced to flee Guatemala with their families to protect their lives. As I was reading the book, I kept thinking to myself that, while I know the USA government has its own issues with corruption and scandal, it doesn't compare to the cover-up of this one murder - and by extension the hundreds of thousands more that happened during the civil war.

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