Cover image for A miracle, a universe : settling accounts with torturers
A miracle, a universe : settling accounts with torturers
Weschler, Lawrence.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Pantheon Books, [1990]

Physical Description:
ix, 293 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
JC599.B7 W47 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In a now classic and profoundly influential study, Weschler probes the vexing issues facing fledging transitional democracies around the world, focusing specifically on events in Brazil and Uruguay. Copyright © Libri GmbH. All rights reserved.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

A repressive doctrine known as National Security--implemented by generals following military coups and characterized by massive intimidation of the native citizenry and a strong anti-Communist ideology--put a stranglehold on Latin America during the 1960s and 1970s. As these nations slowly return to a semblance of democracy, the previous regimes' massive detentions of anyone presumed "subversive" and the indiscriminate use of torture for political ends, remain haunting reminders of the past and omens of things to come. (With a general amnesty for the perpetrators of vicious acts of torture, citizens in these countries can run into their own brutalizers in the streets of Montevideo.) In Brazil, Weschler, a staff writer for the New Yorker, interviewed the anonymous but heroic authors of Brasil Nunca Mais, a secret, in-depth report on torture that became the biggest-selling book of nonfiction in Brazil's history. In Uruguay, he followed the events surrounding a nationwide referendum to determine whether an amnesty for the military should stand. Weschler's thorough knowledge of his subject, his access to key individuals, and his lucid and compelling commentary contribute to the excellence of his account of shaky political transitions. Notes, references; index. --Benjamin Segedin

Publisher's Weekly Review

After the demise of Brazil's repressive military regime, a group of ex-prisoners, all former torture victims, banded together to document their captors' atrocities--arbitrary arrests and ``disappearances,'' the torture of thousands, murders. Their 1985 book, which holds the U.S. responsible for helping to create Brazil's dictatorship, became a bestseller in that country. In the first half of his dispassionate report, New Yorker staff writer Wechsler records his conversations with the survivors. Brazil's one-time torturers, he notes, have risen to positions of power. In the book's second half, he describes Uruguay's massive but unsuccessful petition campaign--spearheaded by ex-torture victims and human rights activists--to bring to justice the toppled Uruguayan military regime's butchers. Though Wechsler underestimates the U.S. role in reversing Uruguay's democracy, he points out that the State Department issued bland assurances that the police state in Uruguay was a temporary response to an emergency situation. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Systematic political torture is a relatively recent phenomenon in world politics. Weschler, a New Yorker staff writer, chronicles an era of torture in Brazil and Uruguay. He bases his Brazilian account on over one million pages of archives kept by the military, which includes accounts by survivors. He also tells the story of the not-wholly successful efforts to bring Uruguayan officials to justice. Individual accounts of torture, however, are only a small part of the book; instead, Weschler recounts the story of whole societies as victims. Previously excerpted in a five-part series in The New Yorker , this is a compelling book that draws attention to a political truth that is too easily avoided. Highly recommended for public and university libraries.-- Andrea Bonnicksen, Eastern Illinois Univ., Charleston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

I A Miracle, A Universe
II The Reality of the World
Notes 1998