Departing at Dawn: A Novel of Argentina’s Dirty War

A bike ride past a mass grave in downtown Buenos Aires and a short conversation about “disappearing” people by drugging them and then tossing them from planes over the Rio de la Plata had my head reeling wanting to understand more about Argentina’s Dirty Way during 1976-1983.  A quick search on Amazon yielded many non-fiction and Spanish titles but not a lot of English literature on the subject. It is surprising there is no “Killing Fields” equivalent story that humanized the events and brought them to light with a global audience.  Perhaps, there has not been enough time.  Some of the gruesome activities of the war have only been relatively recently uncovered.  There are still weekly  protests by the mothers and grandmothers of many of the victims. Or maybe it is still too dangerous to talk fully about what happened. During trials as late as 2007, judges were threatened, key witness have gone missing.  Indeed, criticizing the government and exposing injustices is still very dangerous in Argentina.  Just last week, facts emerged that indicate a prominent lawyer, Alberto Nisman, making a case against the government was killed by the state a year ago.

41brWiyv5kL._SX342_BO1,204,203,200_However, I did find “Departing at Dawn” which detailed one family’s plight during the “Dirty War”. It follows the life of a young med-school student whose activist boyfriend is killed and who is force to flea the country to avoid persecution.  It is a fast read and a story that grabs you quickly. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of details on the war (although the afterwords and notes provide a lot of good information in very consumable format), but you do get a good perspective how everyday people were impacted during those years.


If you are all interested in the subject, this is a worthwhile and quick read.  As for myself, I have 3-4 more Kindle samples loaded up and am starting to plow through some of the non-fiction texts out there on the subject.

2 thoughts on “Departing at Dawn: A Novel of Argentina’s Dirty War

  1. Doug Smith

    I grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina in the 1970/1980’s during the “dirty wars” and have an appreciation for the topic having lived thru it during my adolescence with a front row seat as my dad worked at the US Embassy. I was there during the “Las Malvinas” and had an opportunity to meet the Argentine generals and other figures who were fighting against Margaret Thatcher and England. Will tell you more someday in Seattle on your return. In the meantime, check out:
    All the best


    1. CHILL

      Wow. Never knew that Doug. That explains the futbol skills 🙂 We definitely need to have a beer in the fall and talk CIA. Hope you and Tia and the gang are doing well.


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