Available for the first time in English: a game-changing classic of true crime from Argentina, 1957, by a Latin American literary hero whose courage to find the truth eventually condemned him to death.
Buenos Aires, 1956. Argentina has just lost its charasmatic president Juan Perón in a military coup, and terror reigns across the land. June 1956: 18 people are reported dead in a "secret" execution, a failed uprising. December 1956: high school dropout, sometime journalist, detective story writer, studiedly unpoliticized chess aficionado Rodolfo Walsh learns by chance that one of the executed civilians is alive. He hears that there may be more than one survivor. Walsh hears an unbelievable story and believes it on the spot. And right there, the monumental classic Operation Massacre is born.
Walsh made it his mission to find not only the survivors but widows, orphans, conspirators, political refugees, fugitives, alleged informers, and anonymous heroes, in order to find out what happened that night, sending him on a journey that took over the rest of his life.
Originally published in 1957, Operation Massacre thoroughly and breathlessly recounts the night of the execution and its fallout.
Appendices include Walsh's famous “Open Letter from a Writer to the Military Junta,” which he sent to the country's major newspapers one day before he was kidnapped and killed in 1977.
"A mesmerizing, prophetic tour de force of investigative journalism exposing the pervasive thuggishness of the Argentine military elite. A chilling, lucid work, beautifully translated by Gitlin, which serves as a great example of journalistic integrity."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A captivating and clear-eyed account"—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Finally, this classic of Latin American literature is available in English! Walsh not only exposes a terrible crime with precise and haunting prose, but establishes, many years before Capote and Mailer, a whole new genre of personal investigative journalism that transcends its immediate circumstances."—Ariel Dorfman
"An utterly compelling read . . . a classic of true-life crime reporting"—Daily Telegraph
"Rarely has the ideal of a writer speaking truth to power been more aptly embodied . . . a masterpiece of documentary literature"—Financial Times
"I've read nothing like it. . . Fifty-six years on, this remains journalism at its most incandescently brave."—The Scotsman
"[A] masterwork, its precision all the more remarkable for the conditions in which it was written"—Time Literary Supplement
"All of [Walsh's] work demonstrates...his commitment to reality, his almost implausible analytical talent, his personal bravery, and his political ferocity."—Gabriel García Márquez
"A great publishing event. That Operation Massacre had not been translated into English before this was shameful; that it is available to English readers now is a marvelous thing."—Alma Guillermoprieto, author of Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America
"Rodolfo Walsh’s dramatic investigation of extra-judicial murders in 1950s Argentina was an act of great journalistic courage. Told in cinematic prose skillfully rendered into English by Daniella Gitlin, Operation Massacre is a testament to Walsh's tenacity in his personal search for truth and justice.”—Michael Scammell
"Rodolfo Walsh’s work perfectly synthesized the most hard-hitting journalism with literature of the highest caliber. His example of adeptness and dignity in literary reportage lives on beyond his death at the hands of a military dictatorship."—Eduardo Galeano, author Memory of Fire, Mirrors, and Children of the Days
About Rodolfo Walsh
The grandson of Irish immigrants, Rodolfo Walsh was born in a small Patagonian town in 1927. He dropped out of high school in Buenos Aires and eventually began writing crime fiction before publishing his monumental work of nonfiction, Operación Masacre, in 1957. He traveled to Cuba in the midst of the revolution and launched a newspaper with Gabriel García Márquez, among others. Upon his return to Argentina in 1961 he was shunned by the journalistic community for his connections to the Cuban Revolution. In 1972, Walsh updated Operación Masacre for the fourth and final time before joining the radical Peronist group, the Montoneros, the following year. A day after submitting his now famous 1977 "Open Letter from a Writer to the Military Junta," Walsh was "disappeared" by the state.