Terror is the given of the place. The place is El Salvador in 1982, at the ghastly height of its civil war. The writer is Joan Didion, who delivers an anatomy of that country’s particular brand of terror–its mechanisms, rationales, and intimate relation to United States foreign policy.
As ash travels from battlefields to body dumps, interviews a puppet president, and considers the distinctly Salvadoran grammar of the verb to disappear, Didion gives us a book that is germane to any country in which bloodshed has become a standard tool of politics.
Everything Didion] writes grows out of close observation of the social landscape of El Salvador. And it is quite impossible to deny the artistic brilliance of her reportage. She brings the country to life. —The New York Times