Author: Deb Olin Unferth.

Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9323-0

Click Here To Purchase Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War


One should not read this book for its plot, because the author unveils it quite plainly, albeit in a nutshell on page 4:

My boyfriend and I went to join the revolution.

We couldn’t find the first revolution.

The second revolution hired us on and then let us go.

We went to the other revolurtions in the area—there were several—but every one we came to let us hang around for a few weeks and then made us leave.

We ran out of money and at last we came home.

I was eighteen. That’s the whole story.

From that short summary, what she left out –but easily surmised-- was a litany of mishaps, sicknesses, misunderstandings: the usual fare of adventurous interaction with the outside world and the perennial emotional moods between a man and a woman even as they try to change the course of world history.

And so one should read this book for the way the author wrote it. In effect, the author embodies the perfect story teller; under her pen, every happening becomes so lively and every worthy event resuscitated with such precision that readers can experience them as if they had been there! Furthermore, she does it with a dexterity and wit that we cannot ask for more. She has a special and unusual way to express her conception of things. For example, her view of marriage: “Still, the thought that I’d have to live this way, the way we were living, always, that I’d be married to him and my world would for ever be that small, as small as the biggest the two of us could make it… Suddenly how big we could make it looked pretty small and that was too big to get down my throat, that smallness. That was not going to fit.” (page 73) And that, even after God had acquiesced to their union: “We prayed to God and asked if our marriage was okay with Him. And since we didn’t hear back exactly, we decided it was okay. We told Him that He shouldn’t worry…” (p.67)

The difference, for her, between a civil war and a revolution: “I was only half clear on the difference: it appeared that it was just an insurrection or at most a civil war until it was won, at which point it became a revolution. (p. 32)

The author succeeded in recreating the atmosphere of the time, revealing the parameters of liberation theology, displaying the clumpsiness of those revolutionaries who had made it, and exposing the depth of defeat for those who had failed: “There were defeated men like this. They started to pop up here and there and then suddenle there were masses of them, not just from Central American wars, but from Russia, from Germany, women and men, disappointed people, people living a life in the face of failure, not only the failure that we all face –the slow rot of the body—but the failure behind them as well as ahead, the failure of who they’d been and what they’d hoped for. And there was the present failure too, the failure rooted in their being, the failure that entered their dreams.” (p. 128)

In addition to its rich and sophisticated use of language, this book should be appreciated for the insightful and thorough analysis-description of the two principal characters of the book. Through the narration, both the narrator and her companion emerged as two selfless, naïve young Americans insurging against corrupting capitalism in favor of social justice and political equality. Without much money in their pocket but with a lot of good will in their heart, they precipitated head long into every and all countries south of the border in the hope of reducing the inequity that erects barriers among the people.

It is, however, somewhat stressful to delve into a long litany of woes.


Click Here To Purchase Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War