Paraguay - the name conjures up everything most exotic and extreme in South America. It's a place of hellish jungles, dictators, fraudsters and Nazis, utopian experiments, missionaries and lurid coups. It's not a place for the timid because there isn't even a guidebook. But Paraguay, as revealed in this outstanding new book, is among the most beautiful and captivating countries in the world. The beguiling Paraguayans, despised and feared by their neighbours, are unfathomable. They adore Britain (hundreds volunteered to fight for Britain in the Falklands War), have a taste for soccer and, when the Vice-President is murdered, they call in Scotland Yard. John Gimlette has written a brilliant evocation which captures Paraguay's originality, passion, quirkiness and contradictions.
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At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig chronicles the history of Paraguay from the discovery and conquest of the primitive tribes in the seventeenth century to the string of tin pot dictators who have dominated the country ever since. John Gimlette first visited Paraguay as the Falklands war erupted. He's been back several times since and writes with affection, bewilderment and a wry humour about this most bizarre, bloodthirsty and fascinating of countries.
It's a tale of unbelievable corruption and cruelty, idealism and ignorance. European Jesuits converted the cannibals and set up Arcadian communes only to have them crushed by their own rapacious countrymen. German Anabaptists escaped to Paraguay to set up religious communes while other Germans washed up in Paraguay and ended up supporting Hitler and sheltering Nazi criminals after the war.
Gimlette records it all with verve, precision and a rollicking sense of timing. He has presented us with a page-turner of a travel book that mixes culture and criminality, decadence and despair with a bizarre flair that must approximate the country itself. --Dwight LongeneckerReview:
Landlocked, almost impenetrable and a long-time experimenter in tyranny, Paraguay is visited by few tourists yet becomes intimately open through this idiosyncratic travel book. Each bizarre incident on Gimlette's visits etches its contradictions, deceptions, eccentricities and extraordinary inhabitants ranging from Nazis to the stationmaster of a railway that no longer runs. One US ambassador said that in Paraguay the poor go to prison and the rich go to their clubs. Who are the rich? "Arms-dealers, drug-dealers, arbitrage manipulators and real-estate tycoons; girlfriends like ponies and mistresses like rocking-horses, a pimp, a hustler and the head of a dynasty...". A marvellously rumbustious, enjoyable and evocative debut from barrister Gimlette who won the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize for the travel essay which he expanded into this book.
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Book Description Hutchinson, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Airport/Export ed. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0091794595