At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig chronicles the history of Paraguay from the discovery and conquest of the primitive tribes in the seventeenth century to the string of tin pot dictators who have dominated the country ever since. John Gimlette first visited Paraguay as the Falklands war erupted. He’s been back several times since and writes with affection, bewilderment and a wry humour about this most bizarre, bloodthirsty and fascinating of countries.
It’s a tale of unbelievable corruption and cruelty, idealism and ignorance. European Jesuits converted the cannibals and set up Arcadian communes only to have them crushed by their own rapacious countrymen. German Anabaptists escaped to Paraguay to set up religious communes while other Germans washed up in Paraguay and ended up supporting Hitler and sheltering Nazi criminals after the war.
Gimlette records it all with verve, precision and a rollicking sense of timing. He has presented us with a page-turner of a travel book that mixes culture and criminality, decadence and despair with a bizarre flair that must approximate the country itself.
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