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At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig: Travels Through Paraguay Paperback – Mar 8 2005

3.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Vintage (March 8 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400078520
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400078523
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.1 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 381 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,016,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Over the past 500 years, Paraguay has been invaded by successive waves of conquistadors, missionaries, Mennonites, Australian socialists, fugitive Nazis and, perhaps most improbably, Islamic extremists. "An island surrounded by land," bordered by vast deserts and impenetrable jungles, Paraguay is a country uniquely suited for those seeking to drop out of sight or, like Gimlette, find themselves. The author was 18 when he first traveled to Paraguay more than two decades ago; return visits only deepened his appreciation for the nation and its tragicomic past. Gimlette seems to have gone everywhere and talked to everyone. He boats down piranha-infested rivers, hobnobs with Anglo-Paraguayan socialites and hunts down the former hiding place of notorious Auschwitz doctor Josef Mengele. Gimlette, a travel writer and lawyer in London, proves a chatty, amiable guide to local institutions like the national railway (which has no running trains) and native wildlife, like the fierce, raccoon-like coatimundis (who, Gimlette writes, "make up for their absence of pity with fistfuls of dagger-like claws"). Yet he doesn't shirk from the nastier aspects of Paraguay's bloody history. Gimlette describes in horrific detail, for example, the rape and conquest of the Guarani Indians as well as the brutally repressive regime of Don Alfredo Stroessner (whose U.S.-backed dictatorship lasted longer than any other in the Western Hemisphere). Gimlette could have used some judicious editing-the narrative drags in parts, and its scattered chronology can be confusing-but he never fails to impress with his ingenuity, sincerity and sense of humor. 16 pages of color and b&w photos, not seen by PW.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

If some Americans can't locate Canada on a map, it's likely many haven't even heard of Paraguay. Yet this California-sized South American country has endured an astonishing run of totalitarianism, instability, and war. Travel writer and attorney Gimlette shares that chilling history, drawing anecdotes from survivors and descendants as he explores the country. While his own doings seem unavoidably flat compared to the outrages he relates (one war killed four-fifths of the country's population, and 9 out of 10 men), it is interesting to glimpse the country today, which is happier yet still a place where the black market dwarfs the gross national product. Gimlette's prose has an almost cartoonish cast at times (a past ruler of "the hookwormed rabble" is "rutting, greasy-pawed"), yet sometimes he turns a perfect phrase ("They already had chimneys and now they wanted fireplaces"). Moreover, he conveys, though he can't explain, a national character that it doesn't seem cliched to call inscrutable. Fascinating and compulsively readable. Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It sure seems that the other reviewers (posted below) read a different Gimlette book than I, but I found this book both extraordinary and a "bloody good read". I read the book while I was traveling through South America by car. I had a week to ten days for Paraguay and brought along Gimlette's travelogue/history.
John Gimlette's writing is engaging. His grasp of the history of Paraguay is superlative. His dry English humor often gives the absurd and macabre balance. Face it, Paraguay has an egregious history and there is no other way to tell it but explicitly. Gimlette does just that well.
John Gimlette is a lawyer practicing law in England who has an infatuation with Paraguay. His writing approach is much like that of a defense lawyer who is stuck with the implacable task of defending a depraved guilty hoodlum. The lawyer, John Gimlette, does his case study and digs up the often dark past of his client - Paraguay (i.e. incompetent, corrupt leaders who started a war that would go down in history as the bloodiest conflicts ever, 80% of all Paraguayans would perished, then there is the genocide, a haven for fugitive Nazis, and a corruption standard that would make Bangladesh look honest). In this book, reading between the lines, you can detect the lawyer in Gimlette. Read carefully and you can hear him pleading his case before the bench, stating "Yes, your honor, Paraguay is guilty, BUT there are mitigating circumstances and I want to set the record straight". The reader must decide whether he succeeds or not.
The book has short comings. It is missing an index and maps (map for a travel book really help John). Both of these would have been a welcome addition to a book filled with people, places and facts.
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Format: Hardcover
All in all, this is a very interesting book. I have learned more about my country's history from this book than I did in all my years in Paraguayan schools. It is a must read for all Paraguayans and everyone in general, why for everyone in general? Well, it has many historical facts about Americans, Germans, Australians, Italians, English, Indians, Jesuits, South Americans, the Nazis, etc. and their relationship to Paraguay. It has been wonderfully researched and is full of awesome facts and numbers. I can only recommend this book; it also has lots of old pictures and funny passages. The book is not perfect, it contains lots of misspelled Spanish and Guarani words and proper names, something that doesn't belong to any book. What I personally dislike the most is the fact that the author gave the book the weirdest title. I have never met anyone that has ever heard of those inflatable pigs, it was probably some kind of Pokemon/Tamaguchi wave that lasted for a few days, and he dedicated the book's title to it... What I also didn't like are some of his generalizations and comments about him being home sick or missing the UK when he couldn't find a real English Bar in Paraguay.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a fine piece of work. Nobody knows anything about Paraguay, and this book seeks to change that.

It is a masterful piece, weaving contemporary Paraguayan life, at least, Paraguay of ten years ago, with their bizarre and fascinating history. As with his work "The Wild Coast" this lovely piece has put Asuncion firmly on my list of places to which I shall travel; soon.

The book is interesting for anyone seeking to understand a little about the historical development of not only Paraguay, but its immediate neighbours. The historical content is rich, the observation acute and the whole work mesmerising.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great read! I didn't go anywhere near all the places the author went to in Paraguay but then again, if I had, I probably
wouldn't have survived the godawful food he had to eat. Only a Brit with his inborn cast iron stomach can do that...
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