In 1980 El Salvador was plunged into a bloody civil war, and Luis Campos, a peasant farmer, found himself drawn into a deadly political maelstrom of guerrilla fighting for twelve years. In this
collection of fascinating and revealing oral histories, Gorkin and Pineda portray the personal and social lives of Luis and his family, who for the past eighteen years have been working to rebuild
their lives in their new community beneath the Guazapa volcano.
This is a fascinating, engaging, and important work. It draws us intimately into the lives of one family in rural El Salvador. Through their voices, we come to understand how campesinos experienced the conflict of the 1980s—in guerrilla camps, refugee camps, and war zones—and the consequences of that conflict for their lives and relationships today. Gorkin and Pineda eloquently achieve what oral historians ultimately hope to do: they get us to care about these people at the same time as they enlighten us about the complexities of their lives. This is an extraordinary book.
—Jocelyn Viterna, Harvard University
Luis, his mother, his wife, his in-laws, his children, and some neighbors recall in a simple and often eloquent manner their
experiences of everyday life before, during, and after the civil war. Nin~a Bonafacia, Luis's mother, tells of the days before the war when two of her daughters were murdered and she fled with her
family to a refugee camp. Julia, Luis's wife, recounts her life as a guerrillera during which, incidentally, she gave birth to the first two of her eight children. JoaquiÂ´n, a neighbor and
comrade-in-arms, discusses how he and others took control of the land of Comunidad Guazapa and began rebuilding in those turbulent days and months right after the war. Margarita and Francisco, the two
oldest children, with candor and insight discuss the trajectory of their lives and that of the postwar generation. And at the center of all these stories stands Luis, the guerrillero, farmer,
neighbor, husband, father—and raconteur par excellence.
In sum, the multiple voices in From Beneath the Volcano combine to form a rich tapestry displaying a story of war, family,
and community and provide a never-before-seen view of both the past and present El Salvador.