Recommended Reading on Guatemala
Reading about Guatemala and its people is one of the best ways to prepare for your trip. Guatemala’s history, both ancient and recent, is important to understanding its present situation.
Guatemala: Culture Smart! The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture
This short travel guide does an excellent job of introducing essential information on attitudes, beliefs, and behavior in Guatemala, ensuring that you arrive aware of basic manners, common courtesies, and sensitive issues.
Guatemala: Never Again!, Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala (ODHAG)
This book is a detailed report of human rights abuses in Guatemala.
I, Rigoberta Menchu, Rigoberta Menchu Tum
This book is a personal account by the Guatemalan indigenous leader who won the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize.
Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala, Steven Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer
This book is a comprehensive account of the CIA operation which overthrew the democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz in 1954. First published in 1982.
Silence on the Mountain: Stories of Terror, Betrayal and Forgetting in Guatemala, Daniel Wilkenson
This book traces the history of Guatemala's 36-year civil war through personal interviews with plantation owners, army officials, guerrillas and the impoverished civilians stuck in the middle.
In addition to reading, here are a few other resources that will educate you more before you arrive:
When the Mountains Tremble (Film, 1983)
A documentary on the war between the Guatemalan military and the Mayan population, with firsthand accounts by Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu.
What Happened at Dos Erres (Radio Broadcast, 2012)
National Public Radio’s Ira Glass tells the story of how Oscar Ramirez, a Guatemalan immigrant living near Boston, got a phone call with some very strange news about his past. A public prosecutor from Guatemala told Oscar that when he was three years old, he may have been abducted from a massacre at a village called Dos Erres. Warning: Parts of this broadcast are quite graphic.