Ariel Dorfman, the author of "Death and the Maiden" and "How to Read Donald Duck," was born in Argentina but taken by his parents to New York City as a young child. Pushed out of the U.S. by McCarthyism for their socialist leanings, his family resettled in Chile. He studied at Berkeley and now teaches at Duke. But most of the book centers on his childhood and early adulthood in Chile. Dorfman was named Vladimiro by his father in admiration of Lenin, but as a boy he fought to reject Spanish, then English, then back again -- torn between two languages -- and adopted the first name Edward, then his middle name Ariel. (His ethnic background is also Jewish.) After the socialist government of Salvador Allende ascended to power in Chile, Dorfman was heavily involved. Then came the CIA-backed coup in which Allende and many of his colleagues were killed, and the author survived by a series of lucky chances and help. The book describes Dorfman's love-hate relationship with the U.S. and the English language.
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The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus