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In 1973, the portly, dark-haired, bearded film director Miguel Littín fled Chile after a U.S.-supported military coup toppled the democratically elected Socialist government of Salvador Allende, replacing it with the rule of General Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet’s cruel reign was to last some seventeen years, during which Chile was turned into a laboratory for the economic ideas of Milton Friedman, leading to a society where the rich became richer and the poor much poorer, and the government was sustained by an ongoing reign of terror. In 1985, Littín returned to Chile, now slim and clean-shaven, with a false name, false passport, and false wife. Pretending to be a Uruguayan businessman, he was bent on making a movie that told the truth about life under Pinochet.
This is the story of Littín’s escapade, which was a journey to a risky and in many ways unexpected new country–and into his own complicated feelings as an exile. Gabriel García Márquez brings all his gifts as a novelist to the telling Littín’s tale, revealing the unreal essence of life in a country where the plain truth was inadmissible. Clandestine in Chile is a true-life adventure story and a classic of modern reportage.
“Clandestine in Chile is a memoir of Mr. Littin’s six-week adventure, as told to and recast by Mr. Garcia Marquez, and a sketch for what the latter calls the film behind the film, the personal story he finds more moving than the original film project. The idea is moving, indeed dazzling...[Gabriel Garcia Márquez] seems chiefly to have lent some of his own quietly lyrical cadences to certain images and chapter endings…he evokes well the haunting cold of autumn in Chile, and gently registers the exile’s nostalgias and surprises.” –Michael Wood, The New York Times
“Garcia Marquez has written a terse political thriller with shafts of insight into conflicts of identity.” –Newsweek
“It is excellent journalism...this book remains an interesting historical document—smuggled across the Chilean border like contraband—of what life was like under the old dictator…I have never read a book that pokes quite such irreverent fun at the dangers of military power.” –The Independent (London)