This introductory chapter discusses the theme of this volume which is about the history of the Partido Comunista del Perú-Por el Sendero Luminoso de Mariátegui or the Maoist Shining Path (PCP-SL) in rural Ayacucho, Peru, during the period from 1895 to 1980. This book attempts to make sense of Shining Path by looking backward in time, tracing eighty-five years of historical processes that prefaced the party and its war. Its coverage include the politics of abandon in Ayacucho, the Tawantinsuyo Movement, the history of the Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (APRA), the politics of literacy, and the emergence of Trotskyism and popular action during the term of President Fernando Belaúnde Terry.
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