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Alone We Are Nothing

by Gladys Ambort


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As a young student and activist for a different social order, Gladys Ambort fell victim to political repression in the Argentina of the 1970s. Denounced by her college professor, she was incarcerated for three years, during part of which she underwent solitary confinement in a small, isolated cell. Solitary is her account of this era of her life, including her battles with alienation, truth, reality and uncertainty. She also describes the ‘nothingness’ to which her captors reduced her, which lingered for decades as she rebuilt her life in exile — sounding a warning to others: ‘Never again’.

This first English translation takes the reader inside the mind of a young woman isolated from all she knew. Looks at the psychological and other effects of solitary confinement. A true story of how a seventeen-year-old paid harshly for her progressive beliefs. A valuable addition to the literature of political repression.


‘An extraordinary and moving narrative. I have rarely read something so profound about the suffering in prison and its subsequent consequences.’– Osvaldo Bayer, Argentinian historian and writer, author of Rebel Patagonia.

‘Gladys Ambort’s experience is universal because it fits fundamentally in the category of pains imposed by the oppression which disregards the progress and emancipation of humankind.’– Fernando Solanas, film director; deputy in Parliament, and former candidate to the Presidency in Argentina.

‘Tremendous in the ancient meaning of the word, which is terrible. Its justness and the depth of its reflection grant it a place among the great narrative of detention.’– François Vitrani, General Director of the House of Latin America, in Paris.

‘A peculiar work in many aspects (…) The most surprising is doubtless the place that the author grants to the two weeks which she spends in solitary confinement. This reclusion, which kills her desire to live, opens an unexpected field of reflection to us.’– Le Monde Diplomatique.

‘The message of Gladys Ambort’s book is universal, exempt from political resentment and full of humanism, which allows us to understand loneliness. It is good for the authorities to understand the dimension of the word dignity.’– Walter Kälin, Professor of Public Law at the University of Bern, and Director of the Swiss Centre of Expertise in Human Rights (SCHR).

‘What Gladys Ambort experienced reminds us of the persistence of similar cases in different places in the world and the need to act in defence of human rights with adapted instruments. The number of people who say “NON” to torture and to the attempt to human dignity must increase.’– Marco Mona, professor and member of the National Commission for the Prevention of Torture, Switzerland.

‘Can one collapse inside oneself? Can one have the feeling of not existing anymore, either in other people’s opinion, or in one’s own view?… Yes. This is what Gladys Ambort demonstrates, thirty years later, by pulling us in the abyss dug by those who deliberately annihilate others… Did the torturers want to silence Gladys Ambort? She will not grant them this victory.’– Amnesty International, Swiss Section.


‘The fear caused by nothingness makes sanity explode. The threat of nothingness dominates us. It is stronger than any will, any intention. Nothing subverts our decisions more easily than the impossibility of resisting the threat of nothingness. There is no determination to oppose it, no mental structure against it, no human theory that can withstand it’.

(Chapter XXV).


Gladys Ambort is a resident of Geneva, Switzerland. She asserts that ‘living has been her most successful undertaking’, and that she is happy to have reached 60-years-of-age. After obtaining a PhD in Humanities from Geneva University, she writes, lectures in colleges and universities, works with languages…and rides her bike.

Additional information

Weight287 g
Dimensions234 × 156 × 11 mm


Waterside Press




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United Kingdom

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