In This Review

A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture
A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture
By Marguerite Feitlowitz
Oxford University Press, 1998, 310 pp

A powerful and chilling account of the aftermath of Argentina's "dirty war." Between 1976 and 1983, thousands of Argentines disappeared into the netherworld of the military dictatorship's secret concentration camps and torture chambers. Feitlowitz, who teaches translation and writing at Harvard, has reconstructed the terror through extensive interviews with victims and their families. She finds denial and guilt as well as defiance and anger, capturing the full complexity of the lasting impact those years had on Argentine society. "Life for many in Argentina still means constant vigilance," she writes, "an impeding sense of disaster, carnal knowledge of fear. A sense that history never moves on, but circles, raven-like, round and round." Yet she also discovered great reserves of courage and a will to confront the entrenched politics of impunity and amnesia. A major work that deserves to stand among the very best accounts of state terror and those who had the strength and luck to survive it.