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The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop?
Goldman, Francisco
Grove / Atlantic / Softcover / 2020-05-01 / 0802157556
True Crime
price: $25.50 (may be subject to change)
464 pages
Not in Stock, usually ships in 3-6 business days

Francisco Goldman's widely-acclaimed retelling of the Bishop Gerardi murder case, now reissued with a new epilogue marking the release of George Clooney's production of the HBO documentary film based on Goldman's account.

Known in Guatemala as "The Crime of the Century," the Bishop Gerardi murder case, with its unexpectedly outlandish scenarios and sensational developments, confounded observers and generated extraordinary controversy. When it was first published, The Art of Political Murder exposed a cover-up of the crime and helped change Guatemala's destiny as it emerged from decades of civil war. In the years since, major players in the case have been imprisoned, including the president of Guatemala, and one of the key suspects was murdered while in prison, along with thirteen others. Now reissued with a new epilogue to account for these recent events and their far-reaching repercussions, this is an unmissable new edition of this "extremely important book." (Salman Rushdie).

“Becoming by turns a little bit Columbo, Jason Bourne and Seymour Hersh, Goldman gives us the anatomy of a crime while opening a window to a misunderstood neighboring country that is flirting with anarchy. More, he offers an overdue indictment of brutal war criminals who were not just behind the killing, but also contributed to a generation of atrocities . . . Goldman’s intricate and insightful reporting of the crime and the trial recalls that of Gabriel Garcia Márquez in News of a Kidnapping.”—Carolyn Curiel, New York Times

“Both a horrifying exposé and a triumphant tale of justice . . . [Goldman] employs a blend of literary prose and factual reportage to keep readers engrossed in a complex tale involving dozens of characters, a thicket of deception and constantly shifting versions of events. He zooms in like a detective on tiny forensic details, scrutinizing casual comments and wisps of evidence until they begin to make sense . . . The Art of Political Murder is a passionate cry of outrage that should be read and passed on by anyone who believes, as Goldman proves here, that truth is always more improbable than fiction.”--Pamela Constable, Washington Post

The Art of Political Murder is both a page-turner and a searing indictment of a corrosive brand of politics that has overwhelmed a nation . . . In these dark times, Goldman offers a rare gift: a reason for hope, a story about the limits of impunity, an improbable and inspiring case study of success.” —Daniel Alarcón, San Francisco Chronicle

“Passionate and stunningly researched . . . [Goldman] is after more than a crime. His book portrays the hysterical confusion, the dark fog that power—corrupt, ruthless and enduring—can impose on a society, choking its instincts, blinding its sight and rendering truth not only hard to find but hard to distinguish even if it is found.”—Richard Eder, New York Times

“One of our hemisphere’s finest writers has done it again. This magisterial book . . . is a marvelous chimera of reportage, history, autobiography but also a riveting whodunit, all rendered with Goldman’s trademark intelligence, compassion and verve. Goldman details how—through war, corruption, impunity, blackmail, silence and murder—a country's soul can be brought to the brink of extinction. And how—through faith, perseverance, sacrifice, courage, always courage—it can be brought back to the light. Devastating, gripping, irresistible.” —Junot Diaz, author of The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

“This is an impressive book. Goldman has focused his superb novelist’s talents—compassion, precision, muscularity, great thoroughness and an instinct for the exotique—on modern-day Guatemala’s ineradicable crime against itself. This remarkable book would seem not to remind us of ourselves, yet somehow it does.” —Richard Ford, author of The Lay of the Land and Independence Day

“With his novels, Francisco Goldman has already made extraordinary contributions to modern literature. Now, he has written a compelling and important piece of investigative journalism. Like of all Goldman’s writings, The Art of Political Murder is a work of unique moral acuity and masterful storytelling; but he has done much more than weave us a fine tale. This is a real-life whodunit, a murder conspiracy which lays bare the poisonous heart of politics and power in contemporary Guatemala. In the story of the murder of Bishop Gerardi, Goldman is not only our writer, but our trustworthy detective.”—Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life

“A powerful detective story with a labyrinthine plot . . . Goldman brilliantly reconstructs both the story of how the bishop was killed and the murderous history of military violence that he courageously opposed .”—Aryeh Neier, New York Review of Books

“Bishop Juan Gerardi directed the investigation into the Guatemalan terror. Prohibited history: military power gave the order for silence and forgetting. One night in the spring of 1998, the bishop published the results of the investigation. Two nights later, he was found lying in his blood, his skull shattered by blows from a brick. A gigantic international operation was launched to disguise the crime and safeguard the Untouchable impunity of the authors of the murder and two hundred thousand murders more. This book by Francisco Goldman is the irrefutable response to the dirty work of the specialists in misleading public opinion.”—Eduardo Galeano, author of Voices in Time

“Some stories are inscribed deep in the pith of the world, awaiting only the coming of their chosen teller to set them forth. Such is the tale of Bishop Juan Gerardi, the beloved chistoso—or joker—who plumbed the depths of Guatemala’s genocidal darkness and found himself finally engulfed by it. Gerardi’s fate was to serve as the bringer of terrible truths and now he has been succeeded in that sacred role by novelist Francisco Goldman, who offers an unforgettable portrait—not onlyof one society corrupted to its heart by fear, lies and terror but of the insinuating, terrifying ways of power itself. In The Art of Political Murder, Goldman has written his greatest novel—except that every word on these pages happens to be true. This is an essential book.” —Mark Danner, author of The Massacre at El Mozote: A Parable of the Cold War

The Art of Political Murder… exemplifies flawless investigative journalism. A fantastic detective, ….Goldman effortlessly merges background information with character, gets the real scoop, and somehow never loses the reader…Along the lines ofHonor Thy Father andIn Cold Blood, this is a work of nonfiction that can be read as a novel, even a mystery novel…However, it does something I don’t think a novel could have done in its stead: instigate immediate political change.” —Jesse Tangen-Mills,

“In this painstakingly reported and passionately-told story of a notorious murder conspiracy and the ruthless forces behind it, novelist Francisco Goldman offers us far more than a classic portrait of political corruption in a small central American country. This is human depravity and heroism on a mythic scale, ever more terrifying and timeless for being true.” —Charles Siebert, author of A Man After His Own Heart

“A grimly satisfying, finely honed detective story . . . Goldman takes us deeper than any book has ever gone into the criminal pathologies of contemporary Latin America, with its mara gangs, prison riots, drug networks, and political putrefaction . . . [recounting] the murder as coolly as a coroner.” —Roger Atwood, Boston Globe

“Gripping . . . A tour de force, not just for [Goldman’s] reportorial tenacity . . . but because his novelist’s eye and his deep understanding of Guatemalan society take you places no other reporter could: inside the death squads; inside the world of political assassination; inside the gangs and prisons; and out among the legions of psychotic, traumatized, unbalanced, underemployed veterans who are the perpetrators of so much of Guatemala’s crime.” —Peter Canby, The Nation

The Art of Political Murder is journalism by genre; a searing, gripping account of the 1998 murder of Catholic Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera and the winding, perilous investigation that followed it. Yet like Goldman’s earlier novels, this book engraves itself in a reader’s memory not only for the story it tells—riveting, horrific and oddly inspiring—but also for its nuanced portrayal of a society where violence, fear and moral corrosion have long outlived the conflict that once sustained them . . . an extraordinarily compelling read. Painstakingly, and at no small personal risk, Goldman spent nearly eight years tracking down nearly all of the crime’s key players and untangling thousands of strands of contradictory evidence. Yet he has distilled this tangled mass of information to its dramatic essence, sustaining the suspense of a crime novel in order to compel his readers to understand the complexities of Guatemala’s violent peace.”—Brodwyn Fischer, Chicago Tribune

About the Author:

Francisco Goldman is the author of three novels: The Long Night of White Chickens, which won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award; The Ordinary Seaman, a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and The Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and The Divine Husband. Goldman is also the author of the non-fiction book, The Art of Political Murder: Who killed the Bishop?, which was named a Best Book of the Year by The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Economist. Goldman has been a contributing editor for Harper’s magazine, and his fiction, journalism and essays have appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Esquire, and The New York Times Magazine. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation grant and the T. R. Fyvel Freedom of Expression Book Award, and was a fellow at the American Academy of Berlin and the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. He currently directs the Premio Aura Estrada/Aura Estrada Prize. Goldman divides his time between Brooklyn and Mexico City.

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