The Mountain That Eats Men

Zed. May 2019. 208p. tr. from Spanish by Tim Gutteridge. bibliog. ISBN 9781786994561. $16.95; pap. ISBN 9781786994554. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781786994585. TRAV
OrangeReviewStarAfter reading Spanish journalist Izagirre's book, readers will never want to wear sterling silver again. The author's reportage will make them want to go immediately to Bolivia to try to do something, anything, to help. Izagirre flies to Potosí, Bolivia, to investigate and write about the mines on Cerro Rico ("rich mountain" as it was called in colonial times, now known locally as the "mountain that eats men" owing to the unregulated, unmonitored, and unsafe working conditions in the silver and tin mines). He accomplishes this by using two themes: first by following the life of teenager Alicia, who works in the mine; second, by tracing the history of mining in Bolivia. Neither is a pleasant tale. Though a frank, painful read, heavy on villains and short on heroes, this is also thoughtfully researched, written, and presented, all in a very humane way.
VERDICT Recommended for Latin American collections, and for those who study labor history, this "blend of travel writing and memoir" will consume readers.
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