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Blood of Paradise

Posted By: insetes
Blood of Paradise

Blood of Paradise By David Corbett
2007 | 448 Pages | ISBN: 0812977335 | EPUB | 1 MB

El Salvador: America’s great Cold War success story and the model for Iraq’s fledgling democracy–if one ignores the grinding poverty, the corruption, the spiraling crime, and a murder rate ranked near the top in the hemisphere. This is where Jude McManus works as an executive protection specialist, currently assigned to an American engineer working for a U.S. consortium.Ten years before, at age seventeen, he saw his father and two Chicago cop colleagues arrested for robbing street dealers. The family fell apart in the scandal’s wake, his disgraced dad died under suspicious circumstances, and Jude fled Chicago to join the army and forge a new life.Now the past returns when one of his father’s old pals appears. The man is changed–he’s scarred, regretful, self-aware–and he helps Jude revisit the past with a forgiving eye. Then he asks a favor–not for himself, but for the third member of his dad’s old crew. Even though it’s ill-considered, Jude agrees, thinking he can oblige the request and walk away, unlike his father. But he underestimates the players and the stakes and he stumbles into a web of Third World corruption and personal betrayal where everything he values–and everyone he loves–is threatened. And only the greatest of sacrifices will save them.“This big, brawny novel runs on full throttle from first to last page. Brutal and heartrendering, eloquent and important, this is a fully engrossing read.”–Michael Connelly“A Quiet American for the new century. Angry and impassioned, Blood of Paradise is that rare beast: a work of popular fiction that is both serious and thrilling.”–John Connolly, New York Times bestselling author of Every Dead Thing“David Corbett is a supremely gifted writer and Blood of Paradise reminds me of a Robert Stone novel. Its lyrical prose and exotic setting filled with damaged souls grasping for redemption any way they can combine in a tour de force that will haunt you long after you reach the end.”–Denise Hamilton, nationally bestselling author of Prisoner of Memory“If you’re looking for the best in contemporary crime fiction, this is it.”–The Washington Post, on Done for a Dime_________________________________________________________________THE MORTALIS DOSSIER- BONUS FEATURE FROM DAVID CORBETTFROM TROY TO BAGHDAD (VIA EL SALVADOR)The Story's GenesisI conceived Blood of Paradise after reading Philoctetes, a spare andrelatively obscure drama by Sophocles. In the original, an oracle advisesthe Greeks that victory over the Trojans is impossible withoutthe bow of Herakles. Unfortunately, it’s in the hands of Philoctetes,whom the Greeks abandoned on a barren island ten years earlier,when he was bitten by a venomous snake while the Achaean fleetharbored briefly on its way to Troy.Odysseus, architect of the desertion scheme, must now return,reclaim the bow, and bring both the weapon and its owner to Troy.For a companion, he chooses Neoptolemus, the son of his slainarchrival, Achilles.Neoptolemus, being young, still holds fast to the heroic virtuesembodied by his dead father, and believes they can appeal toPhiloctetes as a warrior. But Odysseus–knowing Philoctetes willwant revenge against all the Greeks, himself in particular–convinces Neoptolemus that trickery and deceit will serve theirpurposes far better. In essence, he corrupts Neoptolemus, who subsequentlydeceives Philoctetes into relinquishing his bitterness toreenlist in the cause against Troy.The tale has an intriguing postscript: It turns out to be the corruptedNeoptolemus who, by killing King Priam at his altar duringthe sack of Troy, brings down a curse upon the Greeks even as theyare perfecting their victory.This story suggested several themes, which I then molded to myown purposes: the role of corruption in our concept of expedience,the need of young men to prove themselves worthy in the eyes ofeven morally suspect elders (or especially them), and the curse of ahard-won ambition.Why El Salvador?I saw in the Greek situation a presentiment of America’s dilemma atthe close of the Cold War: finally achieving unrivaled leadership ofthe globe, but at the same time being cursed with the hatred of millions.Though we have showered the world with aid, too often wehave done so through conspicuously corrupt, repressive, even murderousregimes, where the elites in charge predictably siphoned offmuch of that aid into their own pockets. Why did we look the otherway during the violence and thievery? The regimes in question werereliably anticommunist, crucial to our need for cheap oil, or otherwiseamenable to American strategic or commercial interests.We live in a dangerous world, we are told. Hard, often unpleasantchoices have to be made.It’s a difficult argument for those who have suffered under suchregimes to swallow. They would consider it madness to suggest that itis envy of our preeminence, or contempt for our freedom, that causesthem to view America so resentfully. Rather, they would try to get usto remember that while their hopes for self-determination, freedom,and prosperity were being crushed, America looked on with astrangely principled indifference, often accompanied by a fiercely patrioticself-congratulation, not to mention blatant hypocrisy.Not only have we failed to admit this to ourselves, but the NewRight has embraced a resurgent American exceptionalism as the antidoteto such moral visitations, which such conservatives considerweak and defeatist. Instead, they see a revanchist America marchingboldly into the new century with unapologetic military power, uninhibitedfree-market capitalism, and evangelical fervor–most immediatelyto bring freedom to the Middle East.The New Right’s historical template for this proposed transformationis Central America–specifically El Salvador, trumpeted as“the final battleground of the Cold War,” and championed as one ofour greatest foreign policy successes: the crucible in which Americangreatness was re-forged, banishing the ghosts of Vietnam forever.There’s a serious problem with the New Right’s formulation,however: It requires an almost hallucinatory misreading of history.Misremembering the PastIn their ongoing public campaign to justify the Iraq war, manysupporters and members of the Bush Administration–includingboth Vice President Dick Cheney and former defense secretary DonaldRumsfeld–have singled out El Salvador as a shining example ofwhere the “forward-leaning” policy they champion has succeeded.Mr. Cheney did so during the vice presidential debates, contendingthat Iraq could expect the same bright future enjoyed by El Salvador,which, he claimed, is “a whale of a lot better because we heldfree elections.”What Mr. Cheney neglected to mention:• At the time the elections were held (1982), death squadslinked to the Salvadoran security forces were murderingon average three to five hundred civilians a month.• The death squads targeted not just guerrilla supportersbut priests, social workers, teachers, journalists, evenmembers of the centrist Christian Democrats–the partythat Congress forced the Reagan Administration to back,since it was the only party capable of solidifying theSalvadoran middle.• The CIA funneled money to the Christian Democrats toensure they gained control of the constituent assembly.• Roberto D’Aubuisson, a known death squad leader,opposed the Christian Democrats as “Communists,” andlaunched his own bid to lead the constituent assembly,forming ARENA as the political wing of his death squadnetwork. His bid was funded and supported by exiledoligarchs and reactionary military leaders, and managedby a prominent American public relations firm.• “Anti-fraud measures” proved intimidating. For example:ballots were cast in glass jars. Many voters, who had toprovide identification, and who suspected the governmentwas monitoring their choices, feared violent reprisal ifthey were observed voting “improperly.”• ARENA won thirty-six of sixty seats in the assembly, andD’Aubuisson was elected its leader.• This was perceived by all concerned as a disastrousfailure for American policy. When D’Aubuisson triedto appoint one of his colleagues as assembly president,U.S. officials went to the military and threatened to cutoff aid. D’Aubuisson relented, but it was the onlyconcession he made to American demands.In short, there was American influence, money, and manipulationthroughout the process, putting the lie to the whole notion theelections were “free”–though Mr. Cheney was arguably correctwhen he stated that “we” held them. Unfortunately, all that effortcame to naught, as what America wanted from the elections lay inshambles. Even when, in the following year’s election, a great dealmore money and arm-twisting resulted in Washington’s candidatebeing elected president, he remained powerless to reform the military,curtail the death squads, or revive the economy, measuresWashington knew to be crucial to its counter-insurgency strategy.By 1987, the Reaganites decided to abandon the decimated ChristianDemocrats for ARENA–the party it had spent five years andmillions of dollars trying to keep from power.As for Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarks, he made them in the course ...