2003 PEN/Martha Albrand Award citation:
    “ Daniel Wilkinson’s superb book, Silence on the Mountain, about Guatemala’s recent decades of bloody civil strive, is honored by the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for its compelling dramatic narration and its patient unraveling of a tangled story never fully told before. What makes Mr. Wilkinson’s writing so memorable is his literary passion tempered by restraint, and his fervent involvement informed by modesty. Always bent on understanding conflicting motives, he has coaxed words from plantation workers once too intimidated to speak, as well as from reticent guerrilla fighters and army officers. As a result, Silence on the Mountain has the seductive allure and vivid characters of the finest fiction, and the penetration of the most elegant journalism. Mr. Wilkinson’s painstaking work has crucial lessons for our government’s future role not only in Latin America but in the entire world. Above all, his book serves literature’s deepest impulse: to bring forth truth out of silence.”


From Jon Lee Anderson, New Yorker staff writer and author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life
    “ This is an extraordinary tale, and an extremely well-told one. Written like a modern explorer's journal, Silence on the Mountain is the account of Daniel Wilkinson's self-appointed mission to uncover dark secrets in a shady corner of Guatemala. With humility, humor, honesty, and blessed with the twin virtues of stubbornness and a good detective's eye for detail, the author found what he was looking for by delving into the entwined histories of people living on a Guatemalan coffee estate. By doing so, he has given us a rare and intimate understanding of how this achingly-beautiful country became one of the Western Hemisphere's most brutalized places.”


From Francisco Goldman, author of The Long Night of White Chickens
    “ This is an enthralling, moving, eye-opening and completely original book!  Wilkinson sets out to tell the story of Guatemala's recently ended 36-year internal war through the secret history of one venerable coffee plantation.  The result reads like a novel, narrated by a disarmingly funny, perceptive, deeply humane young American who knows how to wear his courage lightly. You feel as if you are riding with Wilkinson on his beat-up motorcycle up muddy, dangerous jungle trails into the heart of a secretive country just waking up from a long nightmare. Put this one up there with Philip Gourevitch's We Wish to Inform YouÉ and Rian Malan's My Traitor's Heart.  A brilliant and important book.”


From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    “ A page-turning work of detective nonfiction.”


From Salon
    “ A beautiful, harrowing and comprehensive narrative history.”


From The New Yorker
    “ Silence on the Mountain, by Daniel Wilkinson (Houghton Mifflin; $24). In 1993, Wilkinson, a recent Harvard graduate travelling in Guatemala, befriended the heiress of a coffee plantation there. Her family had abandoned the land in 1983, after guerrillas burned down the main house. Wilkinson’s frustrated attempts to discover what prompted the arson became an extensive investigation, and as the author interviewed a cross section of Guatemalans—from the former defense minister General Gramajo to eighty-year-old peasant farmers—his friend's plantation emerged as a microcosm of Guatemala’s hidden and terrible history. The author's style is taut and precise, but it is the Guatemalans themselves who speak with the greatest eloquence. After a massacre in the village of Sacuchum, where forty-four peasants had their throats slit by the Army for allegedly aiding the guerrillas, a witness describes a peasant pleading for his life before a military official: ‘Please, señor, God does not permit this,’ he cried, to which the captain replied, ‘Here there is no God! Here there is only the Devil.’”


From The Nation
    “ [I]n other hands, this might have resulted in a simplistic polemic; but Wilkinson, who is blessed with not just considerable courage but also a strong moral compass, seemed determined to understand how it all played out through real people and real events….[T]he resulting book, in which he combines the probity of a serious historian with the literary instincts of a crime writer, winds up peeling back layers of silence and deceit in ways that are reminiscent of what Marcel Ophuls’s film The Sorrow and the Pity did for Vichy France.”


From The Los Angeles Times
    “ Wilkinson writes after the manner of Philip Gourevitch (‘We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families’). Gourevitch’s account of the Rwandan genocide asks how a nation heals from the shared memory of trauma; Wilkinson wants to know where the memories come from and who fills the silences in the aftermath of a national catastrophe.”


From Publisher’s Weekly
    “ Written in the vein of a Robert Kaplan travel journal, this profound book traces the history of Guatemala's 36-year internal struggle through personal interviews that recount the heart-wrenching stories of plantation owners, army officials, guerrillas and the wretchedly poor peasants stuck in the middle. Wilkinson's narrative unfolds gradually, beginning with his quest to unlock the mysteries of the short-lived 1952 Law of Agrarian Reform, which saw the redistribution of land to the working class. He goes on to explain many of the causes and consequences of the country's political and social problems. At one point, Wilkinson vividly describes how the entire town of Sacuchum uncharacteristically gathered to recount for himÑand thus record for the outside worldÑhow the army raped, tortured and massacred members of the community because they were believed to have supported the guerrillas. Much of what's revealed in Wilkinson's account of the country's trials is hard to stomach, especially his description of CIA involvement in Guatemala. In many instances, Wilkinson's personal story gets in the way of the larger account he is trying to tell, and the book becomes more about him (he was just out of college in 1993, when he made the trip) than about events in Guatemala. However, this book is both easy to read and compelling, and Wilkinson's little self-indulgences are easily forgivable given the powerful subject matter and how well it is told by Wilkinson, now a lawyer with Human Rights Watch. ”