Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Alan McPherson's Ghosts of Sheridan Circle

I had the privilege of reading a draft of Alan McPherson's Ghosts of Sheridan Circle: How a Washington Assassination Brought Pinochet's Terror State to Justice, which has now just come out. You should but it and read it.

It is the story of the Pinochet government's car bomb assassination of former Allende cabinet member Orlando Letelier and an American, Ronni Moffitt, in Washington DC. John Dinges and Saul Landau wrote a good book on it in 1980, but obviously a wealth of new declassified sources have emerged since then. McPherson dives deep into archives, conducts interviews (including with Letelier's widow Isabel), newspapers, and secondary sources.

The significance of the book is twofold. First, it provides an accessible yet extensively researched account of a particularly important moment in the Cold War, where a foreign country made a terrorist attack on US soil.

Second, the book shows how the Letelier-Moffitt case fits within the broader context of U.S.-Chilean relations, as it had a tremendous impact on U.S. policy and attitude toward the Pinochet government, as well as on human rights law more generally. I am not so sure it "brought Pinochet's terror state to justice," but the investigations that occurred did accelerate the push for justice within Chile (incidentally, Michael Townley, who placed the bomb, was convicted, then talked, and now is in witness protection).

It's highly readable and entirely accessible even if you have no background knowledge of Chile or the general context at all. It is a case of slow-moving justice against petty and murderous terrorists.


  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP