January 20, 2018
Friday, April 21, 2017

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By Herald Staff
Cómo se construye un policía — La federal desde adentro by Mariana Galvani (Siglo XXI), 240 pages.

Is there such a thing as a natural-born good cop or is it a work in progress? Mariana Galvani’s view of the force is far from uncritical but nor does she fall into simple stereotypes of police brutality. She explores the difficulties in providing a professional training to uphold the law in a contradictory society which is only too ready to accuse the police of the violence which it also shares. Following numerous interviews with members of the force, Galvani dissects the rhetoric and the reality behind the police spirit of vocation and sacrifice even to the death — partly myth but partly genuine enough — and the norms binding the law enforcers which are evaded at times. In this context Galvani looks at the fine line between heroism and insanity as the police go about their work. She also analyses the media coverage of the Federal Police in a very complete piece of investigative journalism. Following her close examination of the police — both its members and the institution as such — Galvani bounces back to society the responsibility of creating a security force which belongs to the community instead of being a breed apart excluded from the society it is supposed to protect. It is often said that people have the government they deserve — perhaps they also have the police they deserve as well.                       

Medios en guerra, Balance, crítica y desguace de las políticas de comunicación (2003-2016)
by Guillermo Mastrini, Martín Becerra, Santiago Marino, Agustín Espada and Lorena Retegui
(Biblos), 154 pages

This book analyses the results of ex-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s great media battle (epic according to some), followed by the “Restoration” — the word used to describe the approach of the current Mauricio Macri presidency. The last decade has been something of a turning-point in the media debate — never has there been such intense discussion of the role of journalism, media company interests and the circulation of information. Every conceivable aspect of the 2008 media law (as the Ley de Servicios de Comunicación Audiovisual is usually called) is studied by the five expert authors who then go on to scrutinise the hurdles encountered in its implementation — both the resistance of the media groups who saw their interests affected and the highly selective application of the new regulatory framework by Kirchnerism (a crass subordination to political objectives which ended up being counterproductive in terms of electoral success according to the authors). This context also embraces Fútbol para Todos, its propaganda and the distribution of state advertising in general, which Kirchnerism used as a weapon against opposition media. Here the authors underline the distinction between media policy and media politics which is so often confused, underlining their own commitment against media concentration and in favour of truly democratic communication.     

El monarca de las sombras  by Javier Cercas (Random House/Sudamericana), 288 pages

They say that children cannot choose their parents (the reverse is also true) but nor can children choose the rest of their ancestry and Javier Cercas is a case in point. This is the novel Cercas has been bracing himself to write ever since he entered the literary scene 15 years ago with his Soldados de Salamina (also about the Spanish Civil War and its heritage). The king of the shadows — the book’s title — is in reality a complete nobody who fought and died on the wrong side of history. His name was Manuel Mena and he was the author’s great-uncle, When the civil war broke out in 1936, he had no hesitation in joining Franco, only to die in the four-month battle of the Ebro (1938) — the conflict’s longest and biggest battle, a Republican counter-offensive which backfired so badly to result in a decisive fascist victory but one which cost Mena his life. On the wrong side but also the winning side — enough to make Mena the family’s official hero for decades afterwards. This made Cercas resist his odious history for years until he succumbed to a sense of obligation. The result is an absorbing, action-packed and yet aggressively anti-war narrative in which the author explores such themes as heroism on more than one side, the universality of death and the emotional difficulties in coming to terms with an uncomfortable past.                
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Edition No. 5055 - This publication is a property of NEFIR S.A. -RNPI Nº 5343955 - Issn 1852 - 9224 - Te. 4349-1500 - San Juan 141 , (C1063ACY) CABA - Director Perdiodístico: Ricardo Daloia