Imagining Argentina Book Review
Review of Imagining Argentina by Lawrence Thornton.

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Imagining Argentina
by Lawrence Thornton
Publisher: 1987 – Doubleday;1988 – Bantam Edition; 1991 Bantam Reissue
ISBN 0-553-3479-6

Imagining Argentina tells about the horrors that took place during the Dirty War, when 30,000 people ‘disappeared’.  The story revolves around the life of Carlos Rueda after his wife was taken by men in an unmarked green Ford Falcon.  Carlos becomes completely obsessed with finding his wife, and he develops physic powers.  He is able to see people who were taken by the Argentinean government and tell their family when or if they will return home.


Imagining Argentina Book Cover

While this book is obviously fictional, the underlining story of the injustices which occurred during the 1970s in Argentina is real.  This book opens one’s eyes to the kidnappings, the tortures and the murders which seem to have been left out of American History books. The graphic details of the rape, physical and psychological torture and murder that occurred from 1976 to 1983 are so realistic that I would only recommend this book to mature audiences.

Although the book never made any claims to be non-fiction it has received heavy criticism for not having all of the facts correct.  For example, the main character, Carlos Rueda, lives in Buenos Aires on Calle Cordova, but one critic balked that there isn’t a street in Buenos Aires with that name.  Another critic complained that people were taken away by black buses not green Ford Falcons.   I believe these details are well within the author’s creative rights, but there is one part in the story that I think should have been based on facts; the reason the war came to an end.  In the book, the people banned together protesting the kidnappings and ban on political parties, forcing the government into submission.  Although there was a movement from the people against the government, it wasn’t until the government lost a war against England over the Falkland Islands (Isla Malvinas) that the government restored civil liberties to the people.  The war over the Falkland Islands put an international spotlight on Argentina and their politics, this resulted in the 'Dirty War' become public knowledge and an outcry for the social injustices.

Literary prizes include; Ernest Hemingway Foundation Award, the PEN American Center West Award for Best Novel of 1987, a nomination for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Shirley Collier Award from UCLA, and the Silver Medal of the Commonwealth Club of California.

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