book 11Published August 16th 2011

Latin America has been of vital importance to the United States almost since the birth of our nation, and the significance of this relationship has only increased in recent decades. But mutual understanding between these regions is lacking, even as Latin Americans are striving to promote the values of democracy in their native countries and beyond. Why has this process proved to be such a struggle, and what does the future of the region hold?

In “Redeemers,” acclaimed historian Enrique Krauze presents the major ideas that have formed the modern Latin American political mind during the late 19th and 20th centuries, from early postcolonial authoritarian regimes to 19th-century Liberalism and Conservatism, and then the impact of Socialism and Marxism as well as nationalism and indigenism and the movement toward liberal democracy of recent years. Krauze looks closely at how these ideas have been expressed in the lives of influential revolutionaries, thinkers, poets, and novelists–figures whose lives were marked by a passionate involvement in history, power, and, for some, revolution, as well as a personal commitment to love, friendship, and family. Krauze’s subjects come from across the continents. Here are the Cuban JosE MartI; the Argentines Che Guevara and Evita PerOn; the groundbreaking political thinkers JosE Vasconcelos of Mexico and Jose Carlos MariAtegui from Peru. Writers JosE Enrique RodO, Mario Vargas Llosa, Octavio Paz, and Gabriel GarcIa MArquez reinforce the importance of imagination to inspire social change. “Redeemers” also highlights Mexico’s Samuel Ruiz and Subcomandante Marcos and Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez, and their influence on contemporary Latin America. In this brilliant and deeply researched history, Enrique Krauze uses the range of these extraordinary lives to illuminate the struggle that has defined Latin American history: an ever-precarious balance between the ideal of democracy and the temptation of political messianism. Through this comprehensive collage of the distinct but interconnected experiences and views of these twelve fascinating cultural and political figures, we can better understand how this balance continues to affect Latin America today and how its nations will define themselves and relate to the larger world in the years ahead.

If you like this genre, you would most likely enjoy reading “The Open Veins of Latin America“, by Eduardo Galeano.

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