From Civil Rights to El Salvador: Matt Eisenbrandt's Critical Reads

February 10th, 2017

Matt Eisenbrandt is a human-rights attorney as well as the author of Assassination of a Saint: The Plot to Murder Oscar Romero and the Quest to Bring His Killers to JusticeHis list of critical reads includes early influences on his legal career, as well as crucial studies of Central American history. You can catch Matt at 57th Street Books at 6pm on Wed. 2/15/17.


I think a lot about the US civil rights movement and how it played out versus what happened in El Salvador in the 70s and 80s. Two early influences:

  • John Lewis, Walking With The Wind (I read this in first year of law school and it convinced me to pursue a career in human rights)
  • David Halberstam, The Children (my follow-up read after Lewis's memoir)

Three books in English that are more academic and therefore perhaps not as well known as, say, Mark Danner's excellent The Massacre at El Mozote, but provide vital analyses, are:

  • William Stanley, The Protection Racket State
  • Michael McClintock, The American Connection (out of print)
  • Jeffery Paige, Coffee & Power

 And branching out from El Salvador to Guatemala, two of my favorites that are also a bit better known:

  • Francisco Goldman, The Art of Political Murder
  • Stephen Schlesinger & Stephen Kinzer, Bitter Fruit