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NO FRIENDS BUT THE MOUNTAINS by Judith Matloff

  • Written by  Mick Herron
  • Published in Books
NO FRIENDS BUT THE MOUNTAINS by Judith Matloff
05 Mar
2017
Mountain regions host a disproportionate share of the world’s conflicts: home to poppy growers and jihadists, they are where wars of resistance are fought. And though they display a vast range of topographical variation, they hold in common ‘cruel weather and harsh earth’, instilling in those who live there a deep sense of apartness


Or so veteran war correspondent Judith Matloff argues in this chillingly enlightening account of those who live in mountain regions in order to elude or destroy authority, and whose blood feuds are handed down from one generation to the next.

Matloff finds that conflict zones produce a sort of limbo; people who live there are caught on ‘existential borders’, cut off from the world. In pursuit of this thesis, she visits Marquetalia in Colombia, where 1,200 peasants took over an abandoned farm and lived communally, until driven into the mountains by the government, helped by the United States, who feared a Castro-like revolution. Flight into the Andes allowed the insurgency to grow: the FARC used a decades-long familiarity with the terrain to carry out night raids on settlements below.

Matloff also gained access to the Sierra Madre’s Zapatistas, whose rebellion was ‘the world’s first by internet’ – their anti-globalisation messages transmitted through a website – and convincingly argues that the Boston Marathon bombers’ Chechen parentage, with its inherited sense of isolation and dispossession from a mountain homeland, led them to identify with their Muslim cause.

It is important that we pay attention to these places, so that we might better respond to conflicts that threaten to ignite in the future. ‘Danger, like water, flows downhill.’     

Click here to purchase ‘No Friends but the Mountains’ by Judith Matloff

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