When Rains Became Floods

A Child Soldier's Story

When Rains Became Floods

Latin America in Translation/En Traducción/Em Tradução

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Book Pages: 152 Illustrations: 13 illustrations Published: April 2015

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Latin American Studies > Andes, Native and Indigenous Studies

When Rains Became Floods is the gripping autobiography of Lurgio Gavilán Sánchez, who as a child soldier fought for both the Peruvian guerrilla insurgency Shining Path and the Peruvian military. After escaping the conflict, he became a Franciscan priest and is now an anthropologist. Gavilán Sánchez's words mark otherwise forgotten acts of brutality and kindness, moments of misery and despair as well as solidarity and love.


"If [Lurgio] Gavilán Sánchez’s autobiography had not been written with such austerity and modesty, the atrocities to which he was witness and perhaps complicit, would not be believable. . . . On every page, this book betrays a sensitive spirit, who did not lose his reason even in those moments of extreme political exaltation.  Nor did he stop questioning what he was doing and lose himself to a destructive passion.  In him, there is always a sense of a personal rejection of the suffering of others, of the murderers, the reprisals, the executions and tortures, and, in moments, an overpowering sadness that threatens to destroy him. . . . It is a miracle that Lurgio Gavilán Sánchez survived this perilous adventure. But perhaps it is even more remarkable that, after all of the horror he lived for so many years, he has managed to emerge pure of heart, without the dark cloud of bitterness, and has been able to give such persuasive and lucid testimony of a period that even today awakes great passions in Peru."
— Mario Vargas Llosa, El Pais (Madrid)

"[A]n astonishing autobiography, told with style and sensitivity, that illuminates much about late twentieth-century Peru....Lurgio Gavilán has been a guerrilla, a soldier, and a priest, and he is now an anthropologist. In addition, he became an extraordinary writer. His story should and will reach a broad audience."  — Charles F. Walker, Hispanic American Historical Review

"Written in unembellished language, this autobiography penned by a former Peruvian child soldier shows both the stark savagery and the gentle compassion of life among horrific circumstances and the decision to leave and pursue a life of peace and knowledge." — World Literature Today

"Gavilán’s book chronicles the author’s extraordinary life as a child guerrilla, soldier, Franciscan monk, and fi nally, a doctoral student of anthropology at Mexico’s Iberoamericana University. His story is gripping, brutal, and, at times, redeeming. More than a simple memoir, the book has become part of Peru’s national struggle to reconcile with its violent past." — Caroline Yezer, NACLA Report on the Americas

"[A] story told with candor, nuance, and a sense of tragedy. . . . His story provides a perspective on the motivations and lives of child soldiers that is rare." — David M. Rosen, American Anthropologist

"[T]exts such as this one make an important contribution to ongoing discussions about the legacy of violence in Peru. Of course, the relevance of Gavilán's experiences extends beyond Peru, and this English translation of the Spanish original makes his remarkable story more accessible to students and a wider public." — Fabiana Li, Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

"[T]he book is of great relevance for those interested in political violence and cultural memory in Peru, and the experience of child soldiers and young militants anywhere. It is accessible to those who do not have previous knowledge of the context, such as students, and indeed could be recommended as a first read for those who would like to learn about it...." — Alexandra Hibbett, Journal of Latin American Studies

"[T]his is an important book not only for those readers, the general and the academic reader alike, interested in the Shining Path or the modern history of Peru, but also for those interested in the history of world communism."
  — Jana S. Pisani, The Latin Americanist


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Lurgio Gavilán Sánchez is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at the Universidad Iberoamericana (Mexico).

Margaret Randall is the author of dozens of books, including Che On My Mind, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Foreword. Surviving the Flood: The Multiple Lives of Lurgio Gavilán / Carlos Iván Degregori ix
Introduction / Orin Starn xiii
1. In the Ranks of the Shining Path 1
2. At the Military Base 41
3. Time in the Franciscan Convent 67
4. I Return to the Countryside of Ayacucho 87
Glossary 99
Acknowledgments 103
Translator's Note and Acknowledgments 105
Notes 107
Index  121
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5851-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5842-8
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