There is a large and still-growing literature on traumatic memory in Chile. Nearly 40 years after the coup and over 20 since Augusto Pinochet left power, the powerful psychological effects of political violence remain painfully relevant. The academic literature has gradually though incompletely responded to understand it. In Luz Arce and Pinochet’s Chile: Testimony in the Aftermath of State Violence, Michael Lazzara grapples with some of the most difficult aspects of memory through a series of interviews with Luz Arce.

The case of Luz Arce is unsettling and tragic, not only because of the suffering she depicts but because she forces all of us to ask ourselves uncomfortable questions about how we would react under extreme duress. As she detailed in her book El infi-erno (published in Chile in 1993, with an English translation, The Inferno, in 2004), she became part...

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