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Throwing Stones at the Moon
Narratives From Colombians Displaced by Violence

For nearly five decades, Colombia has been embroiled in internal armed conflict among guerrilla groups, paramilitary militias, and the country’s own military. Civilians in Colombia face a range of abuses from all sides, including killings, disappearances and rape—and more than four million have been forced to flee their homes. The oral histories in Throwing Stones at the Moon describe the most widespread of Colombia’s human rights crises: forced displacement. Speakers recount life before displacement, the reasons for their flight, and their struggle to rebuild their lives.

For nearly five decades, Colombia has been embroiled in internal armed conflict among guerrilla groups, paramilitary militias, and the country’s own military. Civilians in Colombia have to make their lives despite the threat of torture, kidnapping, and large-scale massacres—and more than four million have had to flee their homes. The oral histories in Throwing Stones at the Moondescribe the most widespread of Colombia’s human rights crises: forced displacement. Speakers recount life before displacement, the reasons for their flight, and their struggle to rebuild their lives. Among the narrators:

JULIA, a hospital union leader whose fight against corruption led to a brutal attempt on her life. In 2009, assassins tracked her to her home and stabbed her seven times in the face and chest. Since the attack, Julia has undergone eight facial reconstructive surgeries, and continues to live in hiding.

DANNY, who at eighteen joined a right-wing paramilitary’s enormous training camp in the Eastern Plains of Colombia. Initially lured by the promise of quick money, Danny soon realized his mistake and escaped to Ecuador. He describes his harrowing escape and his struggle to survive as a refugee with two young children to support.

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Reviews
  • "Here are the real and unforgettable voices of Colombia’s long nightmare. They tell us of normal lives shattered by trauma, suffering, violence, and redeemed by love, resilience, courage or hard-earned wisdom. I read these oral tales with a knot in my stomach, frightened and moved, and finally amazed by this lesson: when people find the strength to tell us what has happened to them, no matter how horrendous, a terrible yet universal beauty somehow emerges, always casting light on the mystery of being human."
    —Francisco Goldman, author of Say Her Name

    "Outside the U.S. media's lights and whir, the largest crisis in the world of forced displacement from home is taking place in Colombia. Throwing Stones at the Moon makes it personal through these narratives of loved and difficult life, vivid and specific to Colombia's places and to the families torn and struggling amid the long war. Brodzinsky and Schoening convey these people's tender and bitter stories, of resilience and loss, of cruelty and solidarity, in their own full voices. Stories that don't end with an act of violence, but that call out for compassion, and for justice."
    —John Lindsay-Poland, Director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Fellowship for Reconciliation

    "Poignant."—Kirkus

    "Human rights journalists Brodzinsky and Schoening geographically organize intimate oral histories from individuals living through pervasive violence among Colombia's drug cartels, military forces, and rebels. Often astonishing quotes double as headings...piquing readers' curiosity and conscience...Readers concerned with human rights and Latin American politics will find this account of violence and survival both sad and inspiring."—Publishers Weekly