Education: Harvard College, graduated; Yale University, J.D.
Human Rights Watch, New York, NY, lawyer.
PEN/Albrand Award for first nonfiction book, 2003, for Silence on the Mountain: Stories of Terror, Betrayal, and Forgetting in Guatemala.
Silence on the Mountain: Stories of Terror, Betrayal, and Forgetting in Guatemala, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2002.
Contributor to periodicals, including the Nation.
Daniel Wilkinson, a human rights lawyer, exposes the U.S. military's role in the civil war in Guatemala in Silence on the Mountain: Storiesof Terror, Betrayal, and Forgetting in Guatemala. Wilkinson demonstrates that the C.I.A.-backed military coup that overthrew the country's democratically elected president in 1954 was followed by decades of state repression against those who demanded economic reforms. The Guatemalan army, with U.S. support, harshly subdued dissent and brutalized peasant communities in order to destroy their support for the revolutionaries. Under these circumstances, Wilkinson argues, the guerillas had no choice but to adopt terrorist tactics themselves. Civil war raged for thirty-six years with atrocities committed by both sides, until the government and the guerillas signed a peace accord in 1996.
In an interview with Jenna Glatzer published on Absolute Write, Wilkinson explained that he first traveled to Guatemala on a fellowship after graduating from college. He had only planned to stay for a few months to improve his command of Spanish, but as he traveled about the country, he began to hear stories about the war. "I met Guatemalans who had been struggling for years to get these stories told abroad," he said. "The idea was to tell about the violence in order to stop it. It seemed like a noble cause, something worth contributing to. So I stayed." Wilkinson conducted extensive research, interviewing survivors as well as former military personnel. What he had originally thought would be a magazine article became a book.
Reviewers found Silence on the Mountain a timely work that sheds light on an episode of history that has received relatively little attention in the United States. A contributor to Publishers Weekly called it a "profound" and "compelling" book, while Nation critic Peter Canby observed that Wilkinson "combines the probity of a serious historian with the literary instincts of a crime writer … peeling back layers of silence and deceit in ways that are reminiscent of what Marcel Ophuls's film The Sorrow and the Pity did for Vichy France."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
America, December 16, 2002, Thomas Quigley, review of Silence on the Mountain: Stories of Terror, Betrayal, and Forgetting in Guatemala, p. 15.
Booklist, September 1, 2002, Vanessa Bush, review of Silence on the Mountain, p. 1.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2002, review of Silence on the Mountain, p. 1022.
NACLA Report on the Americas, March-April, 2003, Winifred Tate, review of Silence on the Mountain, p. 46.
Nation, November 11, 2002, Peter Canby, review of Silence on the Mountain, p. 25.
New Republic, May 5, 2003, David Stoll, review of Silence on the Mountain, p. 34.
New York Times Book Review, October 6, 2002, Clifford Krauss, review of Silence on the Mountain, p. 26.
Publishers Weekly, July 29, 2002, review of Silence on the Mountain, p. 64.
Washington Monthly, October, 2002, Alex Stone, review of Silence on the Mountain, p. 55.
Absolute Write,http://www.absolutewrite.com/ (September 22, 2004), Jenna Glatzer, interview with Daniel Wilkinson.
Daniel Wilkinson Home Page,http://www.silenceonthemountain.com (September 22, 2004).
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Online,http://www.postgazette.com/ (October 20, 2002), Diana Nelson Jones, review of Silence on the Mountain.
Salon.com,http://www.salon.com/ (October 16, 2002), Suzy Hansen, interview with Daniel Wilkinson.