In their introductions, Orin Starn and the late Carlos Iván Degregori use the terms “remarkable” and “exceptional” to refer to Lurgio Gavilán Sánchez and his memoir. This is not hyperbole. Gavilán joined the Shining Path as a twelve-year-old, fighting for them for three years. When members of the army trapped him on a bleak mountain peak, they took pity on the emaciated, lice-ridden teenager and at the last minute spared him from execution. He was brought into the barracks as a servant or errand boy but, showing his smarts and perseverance, impressed officers enough that they allowed him to become a soldier. This was not his last stunning transition. He left the military after seven years, just when he had a clear path to becoming an officer, to join the Franciscan order. Gavilán underwent the rigorous ordainment process only to leave the...

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