A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers

A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers During The Past Fifteen Years, One Of The Most Vexing Issues Facing Fledgling Transitional Democracies Around The World From South Africa To Eastern Europe, From Cambodia To Bosnia Has Been What To Do About The Still Toxic Security Apparatuses Left Over From The Previous Regime In This Now Classic And Profoundly Influential Study, The New Yorker S Lawrence Weschler Probes These Dilemmas Across Two Gripping Narratives Set In Brazil And Uruguay, Among The First Places To Face Such Concerns , True Life Thrillers In Which Torture Victims, Faced With The Paralysis Of The New Regime, Themselves Band Together To Settle Accounts With Their Former Tormentors Disturbing And Often Enthralling New York Times Book Review Extraordinarily Moving Weschler Writes Brilliantly Newsday Implausible, Intricate And Dazzling Times Literary Supplement As Weschler S Interviewees Told Their Tales, I Paced Agitatedly, Choked Back Tears Weschler Narrates These Two Episodes With Skill And Tact An Inspiring Book George Scialabba, Los Angeles Weekly

www.lawrenceweschler.com

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  • Paperback
  • 322 pages
  • A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers
  • Lawrence Weschler
  • English
  • 11 August 2019
  • 9780226893945

10 thoughts on “A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers

  1. says:

    In 1964, the Brazilian military, backed by U.S military and intelligence assets, deposed the elected president Jo o Goulart and began a brutal twenty year long military dictatorship The generals who led the coup felt that widespread use of torture and even widespread knowledge among the population that anyone could be handed over to the officially sanctioned heartless brutes was necessary to implement economic reforms, especially denationalization of the economy This meant opening everything to foreign capital, allowing easy credit and financial incentives for setting up headquarters of multinational companies in Brazil and quick and simple repatriation of profits In order to lure foreign companies and convince them to stay the technocrats among the generals wanted and inviting economic environment low wages, weak unions, a docile peasantry and lower taxes The cuts in social services and jobs led to substantial opposition from the great mass of people whose livelihoods were suffering Torture and the threat of torture was an important part of the suppressing any opposition to what the generals considered the destiny of the nation, to be the foremost nation in Latin America and world leader in economic growth They wanted the field free for their free market reforms to thrive and propel Brazil into the front rank of world players in the East West cold war In interviews several officials boasted that their torture techniques owed nothing to foreign countries or organizations but were already exporting knowledge on torture, such as refinements of the dreaded parrot s perch Others even claimed credit for the very idea of death squads policemen assassinating their foes in secret a tactic that began in Rio in the 1950s to deal with petty criminals who kept thwarting the corrupt courts According to these officers the Brazilians and Americans together standardized techniques for torture and operation of death squads and exported them to Argentina, El Salvador, Chile and so forth This is almost unbelievably vile, to take pride of authorship of such loathsome practices.A major theme of Welscher s book is how the newly elected civilian government would treat these men What he called the receding security and military apparatus responsible for the majority of human rights abuses during the military regime retained tremendous power and would not allow any formal settling of accounts They demanded blanket amnesty covering all acts committed during their tenure with the same treatment for those who worked for them and actually did the torturing This became complete impunity the right not only to enforce total official amnesia regarding their violations of the law but was unofficially acknowledged over time in those nations in which the government tortured or extra judicially executed its citizens that even future acts would have the same immunity A Miracle, A Universe was published in 1990 The civil war in Guatemala still had years to go death squads were operating in El Salvador with no end in sight to their predations civilian rule had just been restored in Chile after 17 years of military rule, although General Pinochet was still Commander in Chief of the military the restored civilian administration in Uruguay seemed helpless against the impunity of the former military leaders The book is a snapshot of a particular time and place the military had ruled Brazil for over 20 years and in 1990 no one from that brutal regime had been brought to justice, since the military could take power again if they felt threatened However the subject of officially sponsor terror during the dictatorship could at least be openly discussed in the press and on the streets Later a National Truth Commission was created to look at abuses during the dictatorship and a Dilma Rousseff, a victim of torture was elected President and then impeached.Although dated, A Miracle, A Universe should be on the bookshelf of anyone interested in the culture of impunity during and after dictatorship, transitional justice to address the legacies of human rights abuses and accountability for the victims of these atrocities.

  2. says:

    What s the longest you ve kept a secret And how about, if that secret involved a big group of people Can you still trust that that secret is kept In A Miracle, A Universe Settling Accounts with Torturers, by Lawrence Weschler, an elite group photocopies millions of pages on the gruesome acts of the secret torturing in Brazil by their very own military in secret for 5 years until they decided to release a book, Brazil Nunca Mas, containing everything they found out that was hidden away in the documents If you have little patience in reading, it would be hard getting through the first quarter of the book It starts off alright but becomes very wordy and lengthy The topic is interesting The way it is written does not do this topic justice the style makes it almost unbearable to read through Paragraphs are a few pages long Sentences are an average of 50 words in length However, because of this, when there are short sentences, they are hugely emphasized and enjoyed thoroughly The author knows when to add these shorter sentences on exactly the intense or big moments, but other than that, the rest is a bit melo Weschler uses a wide variety of punctuation in his sentences, containing semicolons, colons, parentheses, commas, and especially the use of dashes His writing contains a certain flow, pacing readers to his tempo, allowing the rather long 50 word sentences to be somewhat digestible In addition, throughout the book, there is a continuous use of dialogue as a form of action It moves the story forward, and makes it seem realistic and understandable Through his well chosen quotes, powerful intent, meaning, and motion is displayed and can be felt by the readers Without the dialogue, it would ve been otherwise boring almost like a history textbook This book is quite touching especially when personal records of the tortures are shown What those imprisoned had to deal with is unimaginable, touching, and life changing But ultimately, if you are of a fast paced thriller and action seeking reader, I would not recommend this book This book is for those readers that enjoy slow paced, yet interesting books I personally, however, cannot handle reading lengthy books, and enjoy intense, on edge, suspense filled books This book is intense in a different way due to the whole secrecy aspect and the consequences that await if discovered, but I did not enjoy the way Weschler wrote this book.

  3. says:

    A good read about how activists in Brazil and Uruguay dealt with the legacy of torture under their respective military dictatorships I appreciated two things about this book 1 The indepth discussion of how the regimes came into place and the role of the U.S in their ascension to power 2 The focus on what everyday people not courts or NGOs or whatever did to try to first educate people about the military s atrocities and then to get accountability No happy endings here, though.

  4. says:

    Military and cops trained by USA and funded in part by USA corporations brutalize their fellow countrymen and women and children to protect USA style capitalism in the name of national security Terrifying here and now seeing how we re expected to worship troops and cops and capital is coming into question and .

  5. says:

    I read this book for the first time in college Almost 10 years later it is still powerful It deals with the political, moral, and psychological aspects of how countries recover from the torture and repression of their recent pasts I like how the roles and voices of ordinary people are highlighted Although the book is tough to read, it is also amazing to see how people have challenged torture and worked to overcome it.

  6. says:

    wow a compelling, smart, readable book about the worst things that humans do to each other, about how we recover from those things, and about how people work together heroically in order to overcome atrocity even if reading about human rights atrocities doesn t sound fun this is a wonderful, somehow joyous read.

  7. says:

    Wow It kind of blew my mind as to how so much deceit, torture, and really pure evil could take place and be hid from the rest of the world for so long Not really a feel good book, but very interesting.

  8. says:

    This book was absolutely amazing It was well written and the pacing was great, but the story was incredible I recommend this to any adult, but the scenes of torture described are pretty damn graphic, so I wouldn t recommend it to a child or even a teenager.

  9. says:

    Horrifying but incredibly well written with pages upon pages of illuminating and fascinating interviews, as well as important historical context surrounding the military regimes of Brazil and Uruguay.

  10. says:

    Fantastic book.

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