The Massacre at el Mozote
Author: Mark Danner
In December 1981 soldiers of the Salvadoran Army's select, American-trained Atlacatl Battalion entered the village of El Mozote, where they murdered hundreds of men, women, and children, often by decapitation. Although reports of the massacre and photographs of its victims appeared in the United States, the Reagan administration quickly dismissed them as propaganda. In the end, El Mozote was forgotten. The war in El Salvador continued, with American funding.
When Mark Danner's reconstruction of these events first appeared in The New Yorker, it sent shock waves through the news media and the American foreign-policy establishment. Now Danner has expanded his report into a brilliant book, adding new material as well as the actual sources. He has produced a masterpiece of scrupulous investigative journalism that is also a testament to the forgotten victims of a neglected theater of the cold war.
Based in large part on his extensive account published in the December 6, 1993, issue of the New Yorker , National Magazine Award winner Danner's engrossing study reconstructs events that took place some dozen years before. In December 1981, over 750 men, women and children were killed in El Mozote, El Salvador, and the surrounding hamlets. Although at the time it was covered on the front pages of both the New York Times and the Washington Post , the reports were not enough to derail Ronald Reagan's push to prove that the El Salvadoran government was ``making a concerted and significant effort to comply with internationally recognized human rights.'' Why the government chose to ignore stories in the nation's two leading newspapers is one part of Danner's sad, well-researched book. The other is why El Mozote was attacked at all. Populated by evangelical Christians who, unlike Catholic neighbors fed on liberation theology, did not abet the rebel FMLN, the people of El Mozote believed they would be spared when the army decided to wipe out insurgents and their supporters. After several days of brutal rapes and murders, a handful of people managed to escape to the rebels, setting in motion press reports and the under-investigated, coyly couched American embassy reply that allowed the U.S. to continue its massive subsidies. Danner has disinterred an event that is an equal indictment of Salvadoran brutality and American blindness. (May)
In October 1992, the international community was shocked to hear of the recovery from shallow graves of 25 bodies, all but two of them children, near the ruined church of Santa Catarina in the village of El Mozote, El Salvador. Shortly thereafter, another 100 corpses were discovered elsewhere in the village. After 11 years of investigation, political pressure, and intense lobbying efforts by human rights groups, civil libertarians, and concerned individuals, the truth of what really happened in 1981 in this remote Salvadoran village finally began to emerge, a flashback to the infamous My Lai massacre of the Vietnam War. The situation in El Mozote was similar: villagers caught in the political crossfire between rival groups during a brutal war, trying to remain on friendly terms with their own soldiers while fearing to alienate the opposition. Danner's well-written account, which first appeared in The New Yorker and has been expanded here, does a good job of presenting evidence based on eyewitness accounts and reveals the callousness of U.S. Central American policy (the killers were American-trained soldiers of the Salvadoran Army). Especially recommended for Latin American collections.-Philip Y. Blue, Dowling Coll. Lib., Oakdale, N.Y.
1967: Israel, the War, and the Year that Transformed the Middle East
Author: Tom Segev
“A marvelous achievement . . . Anyone curious about the extraordinary six days of Arab-Israeli war will learn much from it.”—The Economist
Tom Segev’s acclaimed One Palestine, Complete and The Seventh Million overturned accepted views of the history of Israel. Now, in 1967, he brings his masterful skills to the watershed year when six days of war reshaped the country and the entire region.
Going far beyond a military account, Segev re-creates the apocalyptic climate in Israel before the war as well as the country’s bravado after its victory. He introduces the legendary figures—Moshe Dayan, Golda Meir, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and Lyndon Johnson—and an epic cast of soldiers, lobbyists, refugees, and settlers. He reveals as never before Israel’s intimacy with the White House, and the political rivalries that sabotaged any chance of peace. Above all, Segev challenges the view that the war was inevitable, showing that behind the bloodshed was a series of disastrous miscalculations.
Vibrant and original, 1967 is sure to stand as the definitive account of that pivotal year.
The New York Times - Ethan Bronner
You need not agree with Mr. Segev's conclusions on how things could have been done differently to benefit from his research and narrative … Mr. Segev makes a compelling and fresh case that the war was at least partly a result of a delicate and vulnerable moment in Israeli history, and his exploration of that moment is — while too long — persuasive and engaging.
The New York Times Book Review - David Margolick
Segev's look into the origins of the occupation is invaluable. His research is prodigious, his intelligence obvious, his ability to reconstruct complex chains of events impressive. He writes clearly and confidently and has an eye for the telling, and often witty, detail.
The author of One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate has written another masterful history. In this case, he covers not a quarter century but roughly a year: the run-up to the June 1967 war, the six days of combat, and the immediate aftermath. Although the actions, and inactions, of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the United States, and others are duly recorded, Segev sticks essentially to the Israeli side of the story, providing a dramatic day-by-day narrative of individual Israelis, the public, and the politicians responding to the crisis set off when Nasser sent troops into the Sinai and announced a blockade of the Strait of Tiran. Segev depicts a cautious old-guard political leadership, seeking to avoid war, or at least postpone war until tangible international support was assured, but ultimately bowing to the demands for an immediate strike by the military leadership (which came to the brink of considering a coup). His carefully drawn portraits of the civilian and military leaders, warts and all, make for an interpretation of "the year that transformed the Middle East" that is less than epic and borders on the tragic. The final section of this big book is tellingly entitled "They Thought They Had Won."<
From Ha'aretz columnist/historian Segev. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
A lucid history of a year that began in agony and self-doubt and ended with a nation made powerful and purposeful. In the mid-1960s, writes Ha'aretz columnist Segev (One Palestine, Complete, 2000, etc.), most Israelis were convinced that the Arab nations surrounding them would one day resume their goal of destroying Israel, and, moreover, "that Israelis could offer nothing to induce them to recognize the state and make peace." At home, Israelis found a fresh enemy in new militant and terrorist Palestinian organizations-but also in inflation and an economy guaranteed to frustrate anyone seeking to grow rich, or even make a living. Televisions and autos were new to many; so was Coca-Cola, that seal of modernity's approval. Israelis, writes Segev, were cautious but enthusiastic travelers, always glad to huddle with other Israelis abroad; yet at home there were considerable divisions and inequalities, political and economic, between Ashkenazi and Sephardim. In short, the nation was undergoing a crisis of confidence fueled by very real threats, but also existential ones. The broad-front attack by Egypt and Syria (and soon Jordan) changed much of that, unifying the nation-and revealing some of the hidden quirks that shape history but are seldom described, such as Ezer Weizman's response to that Jordanian attack. "Israel could have responded by defeating the Jordanian army without taking the West Bank and Jerusalem," Segev charges, but did so because Weizman felt it necessary to humiliate King Hussein. Elsewhere, Segev chronicles war crimes on the part of the Israeli army, documents failed intelligence that cost many lives and recounts unseemly demands on the part of LBJ, all of which add to theoverall newsworthiness of this fine book. What is clear is that Israeli resolve grew-and became more rigid-as a direct result of the 1967 war, which, Segev notes in closing, had a "troublesome permanency; everything that would now happen occurred in its shadow."Absorbing and convincing: an exemplary work of journalistic history. Agent: Deborah Harris/Harris/Elon Literary Agency