A Meditation on Reality

Days and Nights of Love and War by Eduardo Galeano

Eduardo Galeano’s book is a meditative journey through Latin America during the 1970s. The writing combines Galeano’s astute and terse journalistic accuracy as well as lyrical prose, and this also captures the overriding atmosphere of the book. It moves seamlessly between the personal and the wider and terrifying political landscape in which people are literally eliminated at the click of a finger: through murder, torture and ‘disappearance’:

‘”he technique of the ‘disappeared’: there are no prisoners to claim, no martyrs to mourn. The earth devours the people and the government washes its hands. There are no crimes to denounce nor explanations to give. Each death dies over and over again until, finally, the only thing your soul retains is a mist of horror and uncertainty.”

In an atmosphere of terror and the ever-present possibility of extinction, Galeano captures the minute details of the lives of the people who live and breathe within these days and nights of love and war. Always extraordinary because the context and the writing lifts anything remotely resembling the mundane far far above this.

The book interweaves the political realities with the experience of these realities, forever integrating the micro and macro, thus capturing the self-same and fluctuating nature of lived experience. It moves between a present and a past, resembling a meditative memory process in which connections are continually formed, like snapshots or fragments which are caught and linger on the breath, sometimes with pleasure and, more often, acute pain.

Days and Nights of Love and War is more than an historical document and more than a personal memoir. It is both and at the same time. With its vast scope and its intense humanity, it is a truly phenomenal piece of writing.

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