Silence on the Mountain

Silence on the Mountain

Stories of Terror, Betrayal, and Forgetting in Guatemala

Book - 2002
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Silence on the Mountain is a virtuoso work of reporting and a masterfully plotted narrative tracing the history of Guatemala's thirty-six-year internal war, a conflict that claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people, the vast majority of whom died (or were "disappeared") at the hands of the U.S.-backed military goverment.
In 1993 Daniel Wilkinson, a young human rights worker, begins to investigate the arson of a coffee plantation's manor house by a band of guerrillas. The questions surrounding this incident soon broaden into a complex mystery that compels Wilkinson to seek out an impressive cross-section of the country's citizens, from coffee workers to former guerrillas to small-town mayors to members of the ruling elite. From these sources he is able to piece together the largely unwritten history of thelong civil war, following its roots back to a land reform movement derailed by a U.S.-sponsored military coup in 1954 and, further back, to the origins of Guatemala's plantation system, which put Mayan Indians to work picking coffee beans for the American and European markets.
Silence on the Mountain reveals a buried history that has never been told before, focusing on those who were most affected by Guatemala's half-century of violence, the displaced native people and peasants who slaved on the coffee plantations. These were the people who had most to gain from the aborted land reform movement of the early 1950s, who filled the growing ranks of the guerrilla movement in the 1970s and 1980s, and who suffered most when the military government retaliated with violence.
Decades of terror-inspired fear have led Guatemalans to adopt a survival strategy of silence so complete it verges on collective amnesia. Wilkinson's great triumph is that he finds a way for people to tell their stories, and it is through these stories -- dramatic, intimate, heartbreaking -- that we come to see the anatomy of a thwarted revolution that is relevant not only to Guatemala but to any country where terror has been used as a political tool.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin, c2002.
ISBN: 9780618221394
Branch Call Number: 972.81052 Wilkinso 2002
Characteristics: 373 p. :,map ;,24 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Apr 10, 2012

Silence on the Mountain by Daniel Wilkinson is an important work on the recent history of Guatemala that needs to be heard and remembered. Unfortunately, this jumpy narrative is unnecessarily hard to follow and the length is unnecessarily too long by about 100 pages.

When the author first interviews the townsfolk and plantation workers, he is met with a determined silence which intrigued me. The secrets they guard are horrific, and equally disturbing is the culture that creates the incentive for them to remain silent. The locals frequently answered questions using vernacular such as "Sí pues" and "Saber" which is the language equivalent of passively shrugging one's shoulders. Over time, Wilkinson does start to earn their trust.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at My Library

To Top