Shelves: 5-star , reviewed , translated , non-fiction , reason-for-history-class , spanish , 1-read-on-hand , person-of-everything , r-goodreads , person-of-translated Rui Barbosa believes in the law, and bases his belief on erudite quotations from imperial Romans and English liberals. Eduardo Galeano seems to have written Memory of Fire with that burden in mind, and today, I can finally set his work into its rightful place of being amongst my personal esteemed bests. The reading, however, does not stop there. I know that it has sparked a fire in me.

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To be sure, Galeano focuses on Latin America, shifting his attention above the Rio Grande primarily to treat events that have had large consequences in Mexico and lands farther south.

That Galeano has managed to render his history of the Americas at once accessible, coherent and fascinating is a considerable achievement. In presenting his version of events, Galeano makes no pretense of objectivity. He takes sides against the particular evils of the European conquest, North American capitalism and imperialism and the endless varieties of Latin American despotism. From his vantage point, Galeano sees the track of American history somewhat more clearly.

Independence, however, is not freedom, and everywhere, from Washington to Buenos Aires, governments fall into the hands of the wealthy. Advertisement During the 19th Century, the United States easily surpasses other American nations in economic development.

As an omen of things to come, Galeano recounts the intrigues of William Walker, a pious, self-styled Southern gentleman who descends on Nicaragua with an army of adventurers and a bank account furnished by North American businessmen. A year later in , Walker proclaims himself president, restores slavery, declares English the official language and offers land to any white compatriots willing to resettle in Nicaragua.

As Galeano depicts it, modern Latin American history resembles nothing so much as the old Latin American history. The same bloody patterns of oppression, exploitation and resistance persist; the only major new factor is advanced technology, particularly in the forms of mass media with their unprecedented ability to shape public opinion.

Mired in corrupt political systems, Latin Americans continue to exhibit the distressing habit of exterminating precisely those individuals most likely to deliver them from oppression: Villarroel in Bolivia, Gaitan in Colombia, Allende in Chile, to name just a few.

The days of jubilee seem as remote as ever in a region where a high government official announces that the most sacred things in the world are, in descending importance, property, public order and human life. Against long odds, however, Galeano clings to optimism. Galeano consulted nearly histories, literary works, journalistic accounts and official documents during the preparation of this volume, and he has used his sources well.

Arranged chronologically, the vignettes cover an extraordinary range of historical figures, events and cultural phenomena. Given the results of the most recent Mexican presidential election, it behooves us to understand this point of view as clearly as possible. See excerpt, Page


Century of the Wind




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