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“The Dominican Republic is one of the less well-known countries and, of course, it is overshadowed very often as the second part of Hispaniola by Haiti, which has lived a truly tragic life, even today. On the other hand, the Dominican Republic has always attracted fiction writers. People like Miguel Angel Asturias, Garcia Marquez and, perhaps best known, this year’s Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, whose Feast of the Goat is exactly about the same subject. This is the dictatorship of Generalissimo Trujillo. What Lauren Derby does is not the obvious thing of tracing the viciousness, the repression and the one-sidedness of a 30-year dictatorship. What she does much more is a cultural history of what she calls ‘vernacular politics’. She looks at how that regime used modes of civil society to gain compliance. And sometimes it is a compliance which looks like consensus but is in fact coerced. She looks at how Trujillo used custom and practice at the street level, like gaining intelligence through gossip. She shows how the State sought to make people somewhat complicit in their own oppression.” Read more...
The best books on Latin American History
James Dunkerley, Political Scientist