In 1977 "Julia" became one of the 30,000 victims of Argentina's most recent military dictatorship. Julia was a young physician and mother-to-be kidnapped from a medical clinic and found years later in a clandestine grave along with 334 other corpses. Who were these thousands of victims? Who was Julia? By reconstructing the life of one victim, Eric Stener Carlson gives voice to the thousands of citizens who were "disappeared." Ironically, in doing so, he must use the pseudonym "Julia" for this young woman to protect the people she left behind. The pieces of Julia's story come together through the emotional and poignant memories of those who knew her - childhood friends and family, classmates and colleagues, an ex-lover, and fellow prisoners whose lives intersected with hers in the government torture centers. Interspersed between the personal testimonies are the voices of others who give her story a political and social context. They include a military general, a priest, a politician, a human rights activist, and a prosecuting attorney in the war crimes tribunal.
Carlson creates a personalized account that addresses not only the atrocities of Argentina's Dirty War, but human rights transgressions throughout Latin America and the world. It is impossible to read this story and not come away with a profound sense of human tragedy and personal suffering associated with repressive government policies everywhere. Author note: Eric Stener Carlson is a Fellow of Physicians for Human Rights, working with the War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague. He previously spent two years in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as a Fulbright Scholar conducting research and interviews for this book.