"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.
It is quite impossible to deny the artistic brilliance of her reportage. She brings the country to life so that it ends up invading our flesh.
“Salvador” will trouble you and take up a long-term residence in your mind and your life, and, like so much of Joan Didion’s work, it has never been more timely.