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The War of the Fourth Sword

Between 1987 and 1990, I was investigating political violence in Peru. My work plan was hopelessly ambitious. I had proposed to write a book, but also produced several essays and a monograph for the IDRC. Looking back, I was in way over my head and I would have needed an extensive writing and editing process to pare the work down into something manageable.

On moving back to the United States in November 1990, I was swept up in reverse cultural shock and the need to make a living for myself and my family. The book got pushed onto the back burner and then abandoned.

Now, 10 years later, rather than jettison the work as old baggage, I have decided to publish selected chapters and sections on this website. Most of material will require lots of work to beat into shape. Due to fading memories, old notes and lost reference texts, whatever comes out is not going to be rigorously academic or faithfully journalistic.

What stands out in my mind are the scores of people who shared with me their experience and thoughts. At a later date, I will pull together a list of these people because I owe them a great debt.

When I set out to imagine the project, I did not see it as a book about Sendero. Sendero was merely the excuse for writing it, at least in my own mind. I thought that extended examinations of Sendero ideology would be a boring read. Rather, it wanted to look at the depths of the society exposed the Senderista rupture. Even now, I think it's worthwhile to look back on the period to pull out lessons.