The Mountain that Eats Men

Ander Izagirre

The Mountain that Eats Men

Ander Izagirre

Distributed for Zed Books

208 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Paper $16.95 ISBN: 9781786994554 Published May 2019 For sale in North and South America only

Perched high in the Andes, the city of Potosí has spent its tempestuous history in the shadow of the Cerro Rico—a mountain so abundant in precious metals that it was said to be made entirely of silver. In the sixteenth century, the mines of Potosí bankrolled the Spanish empire, the mountain was given the epithet “the rich mountain,” and the city grew to be larger than modern-day London. But today, Potosí is a shell of its former self. Its inhabitants are among the poorest in South America, and the mountain itself has been so extensively plundered that its summit is at risk of collapsing completely. So many people have working died in the mines that the Cerro Rico is no longer “the rich mountain,” but “the mountain that eats men.”
In this unique blend of travel writing and memoir, Ander Izagirre tells the story of the mountain and those who live in its shadow. At the center of his reporting is Alicia, a twelve-year-old girl struggling to support her family by working in the mines. Through Alicia we are introduced to the long chain of workers and owners who eventually connect back to US interests: the miners who risk their lives every day, the bosses and politicians who keep locals in a cycle of indentured poverty, and multinational corporations who are racing to strip the mountain of its resources before it collapses.
The Mountain that Eats Men is a reminder that metals that move our daily lives often come at an extravagant environmental and human price. But it is also a captivating, moving tale of harrowing bravery and wistful beauty.

Review Quotes
Science
“Gives vivid descriptions of Alicia’s life and work, supplementing these anecdotes with fascinating accounts of the history and politics of the mines that crisscross the Cerro Rico de Potosí. . . . Mining is still an important part of today’s global economy; however, our modern paradigm emphasizes sustainability: mining that is profitable but protects the environment and human rights and health. As Izagirre shows, places such as Cerro Rico de Potosí have a considerable way to go to achieve this.”
Oliver Balch, author of Viva South America!
“With echoes of Galeano’s political ire and Salgado’s immersive rawness, Izagirre has produced a gut-puncher of a book. A powerful, important work that puts the human back into human rights.”
Kim MacQuarrie, author of Life and Death In the Andes
“Explores the fascinating and tragic story of the exploitation of Potosí, one of the richest deposits of silver and tin on the planet. Izagirre’s narrative of characters eking out a living amidst what, for many, ultimately became silver-lined tombs is deft, admirable, and haunting.”
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