Rigoberta Menchu and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans

New Foreword by Elizabeth Burgos


David Stoll

First Edition • December 25, 2007 • 384 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813343969 • $39.00 USD$56.50 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780786732524 • $22.99 USD$26.99 CAN

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Rigoberta Menchú is a living legend, a young woman who said that her odyssey from a Mayan Indian village to revolutionary exile was “the story of all poor Guatemalans.” By turning herself into an everywoman, she became a powerful symbol for 500 years of indigenous resistance to colonialism. Her testimony, I, Rigoberta Menchú, denounced atrocities by the Guatemalan army and propelled her to the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize. But her story was not the eyewitness account that she claimed. In this hotly debated book, key points of which have been corroborated by the New York Times, David Stoll compares a cult text with local testimony from Rigoberta Menchú’s hometown. His reconstruction of her story goes to the heart of debates over political correctness and identity politics and provides a dramatic illustration of the rebirth of the sacred in the postmodern academy.This expanded edition includes a new foreword from Elizabeth Burgos, the editor of I, Rigoberta Menchú, as well as a new afterword from Stoll, who discusses Rigoberta Menchú’s recent bid for the Guatemalan presidency and addresses the many controversies and debates that have arisen since the book was first published.


David Stoll teaches anthropology at Middlebury College. His other books include Is Latin America Turning Protestant? and Between Two Armies in the Ixil Towns of Guatemala.

Foreword to the Expanded Edition by Elisabeth Burgos

1. The Story of All Poor Guatemalans

Part One: Vincente Menchú and His Village
2. Uspantán as an Agricultural Frontier
3. The Struggle for Chimel

Part Two: Popular Revolutionary War
4. Revolutionary Justice Comes to Uspantán
5. The Death of Petrocinio
6. The Massacre at the Spanish Embassy
7. Vicente Menchú and the Committee for the Campesino Unity
8. Vicente Menchú and the Guerrilla Army of the Poor
9. The Death of Juana Tum and the Destruction of Chimel
10. The Death Squads in Uspantán

Part Three: Vincente’s Daughter and the Reinvention of Chimel
11. Where Was Rigoberta?
12. Rigoberta Joins the Revolutionary Movement
13. The Construction of I, Rigoberta Menchú
14. Rigoberta’s Secret

Part Four: Rigoberta Goes Home
15. The Campaign for the Nobel
16. The Lonely Life of a Nobel Laureate
17. Rigoberta and Redemption
18. The New Chimel
19. Rigoberta Leaves the Guerrilla Movement
20. Epitaph for an Eyewitness Account

Afterword to the Expanded Edition by David Stoll

“Stoll’s important and painstaking work goes well beyond the particulars of Guatemala’s monstrous history and Menchu’s honest suffering to address broader issues-the role of created moral authority, the value of armed revolt, the validity of cross-cultural inquiry, the mysterious power of what he calls poetic truth.” -Joanne Omang, Washington Post

“Stoll not only succeeds in making his case for a new and convincing view of the Guatemalan conflict, he also succeeds in challenging us to think afresh about why so many North Americans have for so long accepted a view of war that is profoundly misleading.” -Charles Lane, New Republic

“U.S. leftists who give his arguments a full hearing-and who have not been deafened by their own dogma-will find Stoll’s analysis difficult to dismiss. They may even come to regard it as one of those rare works that actually forces readers to revise their beliefs. -Kevin J. Kelley, Seven Days

Praise for the expanded edition:

“Stoll continues to defend the underlying work of Rigoberta Menchú in the Guatemalan peace process, but he raises very troubling questions about the scholarly use and reliance on personal narrative accounts. … The book reads like a fascinating detective story that reveals a wealth of information about Guatemala at this crucial time … [and] is a firm reminder of the need for critical scholarship in any field that deals with personal narratives.” —Missology: An International Review

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