Magdalena: River of Dreams

Patrick Wilcken at Literary Review:

But the Magdalena has also been a place of unimaginable violence, death and environmental destruction. Colombia’s modern history, recounted here in episodic vignettes, appears to be one drawn-out conflict, from the bloodletting of the conquistadors, to the War of Independence and the multiple civil wars that followed, to a post-Second World War era known as La Violencia, which pitted liberals against conservatives in a brutal struggle for power.

All this before the more familiar story of the emergence in the 1960s of the left-wing guerrilla group FARC and its right-wing paramilitary counterparts, and, of course, the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar and the US-sponsored ‘war on drugs’. By the 1980s, thousands were being slain annually. Davis describes horrific scenes of victims being tied to trees and dismembered with chainsaws while still alive, the resulting mess disposed of in the river.

more here.