In This Review

The Shining Path: A History of the Millenarian War in Peru
The Shining Path: A History of the Millenarian War in Peru
By Gustavo Gorriti
University of North Carolina Press, 1999, 279 pp

First published in Spanish in 1990, Gustavo Gorriti's classic account of the Sendero Luminoso retains all its immediacy and explanatory power in this fine translation by Robin Kirk. Gorriti laid bare the brutal philosophy of the Sendero's mysterious leader, Abimael Guzman, who tried to implement Mao's Cultural Revolution to propel Peru into chaos. Both dogmatic sectarianism and horrifying violence converted a backwoods guerrilla movement into one of the most formidable threats to the Peruvian state ever. The ruthless Peruvian military reacted to the challenge just as Guzman had hoped, forcing innocent farmers, community leaders, police officers, and students to pay an awful price. By 1990, southern and central Peru was a wasteland, with 30,000 dead and 600,000 families homeless. But the Shining Path never seized power, and the power vacuum that the guerrillas and military had created was filled in 1990 by the newly elected Alberto Fujimori. Fujimori's iron rule successfully crushed the Shining Path once and for all, finally capturing Guzman and sentencing him to life in an island prison. A fine introduction to one of Latin America's most gruesome conflicts in recent years.