Journalist Javier Sinay investigates a series of murders from the nineteenth century, unearthing the complex history and legacy of Moisés Ville, the “Jerusalem of South America,” and his personal connection to a defining period of Jewish history in Argentina.
... as fascinating as it is quirky ... Mr. Sinay’s frequent jumping between eras can be confusing, and I wish the translator, Robert Croll, had included brief definitions of the numerous Spanish and Argentine phrases that are sprinkled throughout the book. But the author holds our interest as he perseveres ... Inexplicably, Mr. Sinay doesn’t situate this horror within the broader history of anti-Semitism in Argentina, including the country’s role in harboring former Nazis, the most infamous being Adolf Eichmann.
The combination of the past with the present is consistent throughout the book, in which Sinay is seen interviewing the descendants of early settlers, searching for limited records, studying his own family history in Argentina, and taking Yiddish classes to better understand his great grandfather’s writings. His exploration of his family’s history makes for an empathetic narration ... In contemporary Moisés Ville, the crimes against the early Jewish population are often forgotten. Thus, this work of historical reportage helps to keep the victims’ memories alive. The Murders of Moisés Ville sheds light on an undercovered portion of Jewish history.
... gripping ... Sinay supplements the scant archival material with interviews with the victims’ descendants and his own family members, creating a disturbing picture of refugees from oppressive regimes further victimized by murderous outlaws as they tried to build new lives. Sinay acknowledges the impossibility of fully separating legends from facts (as he was able to do in the case of one murder, for which details of another homicide had been misattributed), but his diligence has produced as definitive an account as possible of what actually happened during this bloody period. This nuanced search for truth should have broad appeal.