On May 17, 1980, on the eve of Peru's presidential election, five masked men stormed a small town in the Andean heartland. They set election ballots ablaze and vanished into the night, but not before planting a red hammer-and-sickle banner in the town square. The lone man arrested the next morning later swore allegiance to a group called Shining Path. Described by a U.S. State Department cable as "cold-blooded and bestial," Shining Path orchestrated bombings, assassinations, and massacres across the cities, countryside, and jungles of Peru in a murderous campaign to seize power and impose a Communist government. At its helm was the professor-turned-revolutionary Abimael Guzmán, who launched his single-minded insurrection alongside two women: his charismatic young wife, Augusta La Torre, and the formidable Elena Iparraguirre, who married Guzmán soon after Augusta's mysterious death. Their fanatical devotion to an outmoded and dogmatic ideology, and the military's bloody response, led to the death of nearly 70,000 Peruvians. Orin Starn and Miguel La Serna's narrative history of Shining Path is both panoramic and intimate, set against the socioeconomic upheavals of Peru's rocky transition from military dictatorship to elected democracy.
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Orin Starn (Author)
Orin Starn is a professor in Duke University's cultural anthropology department and has written for many years about Peru.
Miguel La Serna (Author)
Miguel La Serna is a historian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a leading specialist in the Peruvian armed conflict.