Suggested Reading and Viewing - Resources - Moon El Salvador (Moon Handbooks) - Jaime Jacques

Moon El Salvador (Moon Handbooks) - Jaime Jacques (2014)


Suggested Reading and Viewing


Argueta, Manilo. One Day of Life. New York: Vintage, 1992. This novel follows the daily life of several women in a rural village in Chalatenango during the 1970s. The book was released in 1980 and was immediately banned by the government for its descriptions of human rights violations by the Organización Democrática Nacionalista (ORDEN), the government’s paramilitary intelligence organization.

Brockman, James. Romero: A Life. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2005. A thorough and personal biography of Óscar Arnulfo Romero, the archbishop of El Salvador, until his assassination in 1980.

Consalvi, Carlos Henríquez. Broadcasting the Civil War: A Memoir of Guerrilla Radio. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010. In this first-person account, Carlos Henríquez Consalvi, a.k.a. Santiago, the legendary voice behind guerrilla radio station Radio Venceremos, tells the story of the rebellion of poor peasants against the Salvadoran government. This memoir also examines the war in a broader context, looking at the Cold War and the heavy U.S. involvement in El Salvador under President Reagan.

Dalton, Roque. Poemas Clandestinos/Clandestine Poems. Milwaukee: New American Press, 1984. Small Hours of the Night: Selected Poems of Roque Dalton. Willimantic, CT: Curbstone Books, 1996. For anyone interested in the work of revolutionary poet Roque Dalton, these are two of the only books that are widely available with his work translated into English.

Danner, Mark. The Massacre at El Mozote. New York: Vintage, 1994. This excellent work of investigative journalism follows the events of the infamous 1981 El Mozote massacre in Morazán. It first appeared as an article in the New Yorker in 1993 and exposed the searing details of one of the most brutal massacres in Latin American history. The story caused shockwaves in the United States, as it also brought to light the fact that the U.S. government was sending aid to the military in El Salvador despite gross human rights violations. The article is now expanded into a book with new material and sources.

Didion, Joan. Salvador. New York: Vintage, 1994. Joan Didion traveled through El Salvador in 1982, at the height of the civil war. In this long essay she examines the state of war-torn El Salvador through interactions with all sectors of society—from poor rural peasants to the president of the country. Didion pulls no punches as she creates a descriptive, chilling, and acerbic commentary on the role that the U.S. government played in perpetuating the bloody conflict.

Martín-Baró, Ignacio. Writings for a Liberation Psychology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996. Written by the Spanish-born Jesuit priest and psychologist Ignacio Martín-Baró, this book examines the psychological aspect of political repression, the impact of violence and trauma on child development and mental health, and the use of psychology for political ends. Martín-Baró was devoted to his adopted country of El Salvador and to making psychology accessible to the rural communities. In November 1989 a Salvadoran death squad assassinated him.

McClintock, Cynthia. Revolutionary Movements in Latin America: El Salvador’s FMLN and Peru’s Shining Path. Washington DC: U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 1998. Examines how and why the FMLN were able to overcome massive revolutionary challenges during the civil war.

Romero, Óscar A. The Violence of Love. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2004. A collection of Archbishop Óscar Romero’s homilies and other works.

Romero, Óscar A. Voice of the Voiceless: The Four Pastoral Letters and Other Statements. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1985. This book contains Romero’s last sermon as well as letters and official and public statements that include university addresses and the famous letter to the U.S. president, Jimmy Carter, that demanded an end to all U.S. aid and military involvement in El Salvador.

Sheets, Payson. The Ceren Site: An Ancient Village Buried by Volcanic Ash in Central America (Case Studies in Archaeology). Boston: Cengage Learning, 2005. This book is about the ruin of Joya de Cerén, often called the Pompeii of the Americas, and was written by the archaeologist who discovered the site in 1976, Payson Sheets. It provides a detailed portrait of the life, houses, artifacts, and activities of the Mayan people who lived here. Full of art and images from Sheets’s own collection, the book also talks about the personal trials and triumphs he experienced while working in the field in El Salvador.

Towell, Larry. El Salvador. New York: W. W. Norton, 1997. This book of photography is full of stark black-and-white images taken toward the end of the civil war. Towell’s shots get close and personal with the reality of living in both San Salvador and the rural areas of the country. Photos include scenes of the daily activities of guerrillas, government forces, and civilians, and all include a short summary of the background of the photo; it is a tragically arresting and hauntingly beautiful look at the truth of the civil war.


El Lugar Más Pequeño (The Tiniest Place, 2011) is set in the mountain town of Cinquera, Las Cabañas. During the war the town was completely decimated and abandoned. In the film the director interviews survivors who returned and rebuilt this tiny town in the forest. Evocative interviews and images are spliced together seamlessly to create a visually and emotionally powerful film.

In the Name of the People (1985) is a documentary that follows four filmmakers who secretly entered El Salvador and followed guerrillas across the country as they fought against government forces. This is some of the only video footage of the guerrillas’ daily life during the war.

La Vida Loca (2008) is a documentary filmed by journalist Christian Poveda, who captured rare and disturbing footage of the rival gangs Mara 18 and Mara Salvatrucha. Poveda was assassinated on September 2, 2009, on his way to an interview in a gang-ridden slum close to San Salvador.

Romero (1989) is an American biopic depicting the life of Archbishop Óscar Romero.

Salvador (1986) is a sensational drama written and directed by Oliver Stone. The story follows an American journalist who drives to El Salvador to chronicle the events of the 1980 military dictatorship. During this time he forges relationships with both guerrillas, who want him to get photos out to the U.S. press, and the right-wing military, who want him to bring them photographs of the rebels.

Sobreviviendo Guazapa (Surviving Guazapa, 2008) is a movie about two men on opposite sides of the civil war who are forced together by circumstances.

Voces Inocentes (Innocent Voices, 2004) is a riveting and heartbreaking look at how the civil war affected children in rural El Salvador. Written by Salvadoran Oscar Orlando Torres, the movie chronicles the story of his childhood living in Cuscatazingo, a small town in a strategic location between government and rebel forces. Told through the eyes of innocent children, the film serves as a visceral commentary on the use of children in conflict and the effect of war on innocent civilians. Highly recommended.