Popular Latin American History Books

21+ [Hand Picked] Popular Books On Latin American History

Discover the list of some best books written on Latin American History by popular award winning authors. These book on topic Latin American History highly popular among the readers worldwide.

4.7/5

Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America by John Charles Chasteen

A concise, chronological history of Latin America spans six centuries and encompasses twenty countries as it discusses the people, events, and factors that shaped Latin America--including colonization, revolution, ethnic diversity, and the struggle for economic growth and political and social equality.

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3.3/5

Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent by Eduardo Galeano , Cedric Belfrage (Translator)

Since its U.S. debut a quarter-century ago, this brilliant text has set a new standard for historical scholarship of Latin America. It is also an outstanding political economy, a social and cultural narrative of the highest quality, and perhaps the finest description of primitive capital accumulation since Marx.Rather than chronology, geography, or political successions, E Since its U.S. debut a quarter-century ago, this brilliant text has set a new standard for historical scholarship of Latin America. It is also an outstanding political economy, a social and cultural narrative of the highest quality, and perhaps the finest description of primitive capital accumulation since Marx.Rather than chronology, geography, or political successions, Eduardo Galeano has organized the various facets of Latin American history according to the patterns of five centuries of exploitation. Thus he is concerned with gold and silver, cacao and cotton, rubber and coffee, fruit, hides and wool, petroleum, iron, nickel, manganese, copper, aluminum ore, nitrates, and tin. These are the veins which he traces through the body of the entire continent, up to the Rio Grande and throughout the Caribbean, and all the way to their open ends where they empty into the coffers of wealth in the United States and Europe.Weaving fact and imagery into a rich tapestry, Galeano fuses scientific analysis with the passions of a plundered and suffering people. An immense gathering of materials is framed with a vigorous style that never falters in its command of themes. All readers interested in great historical, economic, political, and social writing will find a singular analytical achievement, and an overwhelming narrative that makes history speak, unforgettably.This classic is now further honored by Isabel Allende’s inspiring introduction. Universally recognized as one of the most important writers of our time, Allende once again contributes her talents to literature, to political principles, and to enlightenment.

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4.6/5

BolĂ­var: American Liberator by Marie Arana

It is astonishing that Simon BolĂ­var, the great Liberator of South America, is not better known in the United States. He freed six countries from Spanish rule, traveled more than 75,000 miles on horseback to do so, and became the greatest figure in Latin American history. His life is epic, heroic, straight out of Hollywood--he fought battle after battle in punishing terrai It is astonishing that Simon BolĂ­var, the great Liberator of South America, is not better known in the United States. He freed six countries from Spanish rule, traveled more than 75,000 miles on horseback to do so, and became the greatest figure in Latin American history. His life is epic, heroic, straight out of Hollywood--he fought battle after battle in punishing terrain, forged uncertain coalitions of competing forces and races, lost his beautiful wife soon after they married and never remarried (although he did have a succession of mistresses, including one who held up the revolution and another who saved his life), and he died relatively young, uncertain whether his achievements would endure.

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4.4/5

Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism by Greg Grandin

“Grandin has always been a brilliant historian; now he uses his detective skills in a book that is absolutely crucial to understanding our present.” —Naomi Klein, author of No Logo The British and Roman empires are often invoked as precedents to the Bush administration’s aggressive foreign policy. But America’s imperial identity was actually shaped much closer to home. In a “Grandin has always been a brilliant historian; now he uses his detective skills in a book that is absolutely crucial to understanding our present.” —Naomi Klein, author of No Logo The British and Roman empires are often invoked as precedents to the Bush administration’s aggressive foreign policy. But America’s imperial identity was actually shaped much closer to home. In a brilliant excavation of long-obscured history, Empire’s Workshop shows how Latin America has functioned as a proving ground for American strategies and tactics overseas. Historian Greg Grandin follows the United States’ imperial operations from Jefferson’s aspirations for an “empire of liberty” in Cuba and Spanish Florida to Reagan’s support for brutally oppressive but U.S.-friendly regimes in Central America. He traces the origins of Bush’s current policies back to Latin America, where many of the administration’s leading lights first embraced the deployment of military power to advance free market economics and enlisted the evangelical movement in support of their ventures. With much of Latin America now in open rebellion against U.S. domination, Grandin asks: If Washington failed to bring prosperity and democracy to Latin America—its own backyard “workshop”—what are the chances it will do so for the world?

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3.6/5

Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City by Greg Grandin

The stunning, never before told story of the quixotic attempt to recreate small-town America in the heart of the Amazon. In 1927, Henry Ford, the richest man in the world, bought a tract of land twice the size of the U.S. state of Delaware in the Brazilian Amazon. His intention was to grow rubber, but the project rapidly evolved into a more ambitious bid to export America i The stunning, never before told story of the quixotic attempt to recreate small-town America in the heart of the Amazon. In 1927, Henry Ford, the richest man in the world, bought a tract of land twice the size of the U.S. state of Delaware in the Brazilian Amazon. His intention was to grow rubber, but the project rapidly evolved into a more ambitious bid to export America itself, along with its golf courses, ice-cream shops, bandstands, indoor plumbing, and Model Ts rolling down broad streets. Fordlandia, as the settlement was called, quickly became the site of an epic clash. On one side was the car magnate, lean, austere, the man who reduced industrial production to its simplest motions; on the other, the Amazon, lush, extravagant, the most complex ecological system on the planet. Ford's early success in imposing time clocks and square dances on the jungle soon collapsed, as indigenous workers, rejecting his midwestern Puritanism, turned the place into a ribald tropical boomtown. Fordlandia's eventual demise as a rubber plantation foreshadowed the practices that today are laying waste to the rain forest. More than a parable of one man's arrogant attempt to force his will on the natural world, Fordlandia depicts a desperate quest to salvage the bygone America that the Ford factory system did much to dispatch. As Greg Grandin shows in this gripping and mordantly observed history, Ford's great delusion was not that the Amazon could be tamed but that the forces of capitalism, once released, might yet be contained.

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3/5

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann

In this groundbreaking work of science, history, and archaeology, Charles C. Mann radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus in 1492. Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influe In this groundbreaking work of science, history, and archaeology, Charles C. Mann radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus in 1492. Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them. The astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had running water and immaculately clean streets, and was larger than any contemporary European city. Mexican cultures created corn in a specialized breeding process that it has been called man’s first feat of genetic engineering. Indeed, Indians were not living lightly on the land but were landscaping and manipulating their world in ways that we are only now beginning to understand. Challenging and surprising, this a transformative new look at a rich and fascinating world we only thought we knew.

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3.2/5

The Conquest of New Spain by Bernal DĂ­az del Castillo , J.M. Cohen (Translator)

First-hand history of the conquest of Mexico

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3/5

Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life by Jon Lee Anderson

"Acclaimed around the world and a national best-seller, this is the definitive work on Che Guevara, the dashing rebel whose epic dream was to end poverty and injustice in Latin America and the developing world through armed revelation. Jon Lee Anderson's biography traces Che's extraordinary life, from his comfortable Argentine upbringing to the battlefields of the Cuban re "Acclaimed around the world and a national best-seller, this is the definitive work on Che Guevara, the dashing rebel whose epic dream was to end poverty and injustice in Latin America and the developing world through armed revelation. Jon Lee Anderson's biography traces Che's extraordinary life, from his comfortable Argentine upbringing to the battlefields of the Cuban revolution, from the halls of power in Castro's government to his failed campaign in the Congo and assassination in the Bolivian Jungle. Anderson has had unprecedented access to the personal archives maintained by Guevara's window and carefully guarded Cuban government documents. He has conducted extensive interviews with Che's comarades-some of whom speak here for the first time-and with CIA men and Bolivian officers who hunted him down. Anderson broke the story of where Guevara's body was buried, which led to the exhumation and stat burial of the bones. Many of the details of Che's life have long been cloaked in secrecy and intrigue. Meticulously researched and full of exclusive information, Che Guevara illuminates as never before this mythic figure who embodied the high-water mark of revolutionary communism as a force in history."

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4.9/5

The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin America in the Cold War by Greg Grandin

After decades of bloody revolutions and political terror, many scholars and politicians lament the rise and brief influence of the left in Latin America; since the triumph of Castro they have accused the left there of rejecting democracy, embracing Communist totalitarianism, and prompting both revolutionary violence and a right-wing backlash. The Last Colonial Massacre cha After decades of bloody revolutions and political terror, many scholars and politicians lament the rise and brief influence of the left in Latin America; since the triumph of Castro they have accused the left there of rejecting democracy, embracing Communist totalitarianism, and prompting both revolutionary violence and a right-wing backlash. The Last Colonial Massacre challenges these views. Using Guatemala as a case study, Greg Grandin argues that the Cold War in Latin America was a struggle not between American liberalism and Soviet Communism but between two visions of democracy. The main effect of United States intervention in Latin America, Grandin shows, was not the containment of Communism but the elimination of home-grown concepts of social democracy. Through unprecedented archival research and gripping personal testimonies, Grandin uncovers the hidden history of the Latin American Cold War: of hidebound reactionaries intent on holding on to their own power and privilege; of Mayan Marxists, blending indigenous notions of justice with universal ideas of freedom and equality; and of a United States supporting new styles of state terror throughout the continent. Drawing from declassified U.S. documents, Grandin exposes Washington's involvement in the 1966 secret execution of more than thirty Guatemalan leftists, which, he argues, prefigured the later wave of disappearances in Chile and Argentina. Impassioned but judicious, The Last Colonial Massacre is history of the highest order—a work that will dramatically recast our understanding of Latin American politics and the triumphal role of the United States in the Cold War and beyond.

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4.4/5

Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala by Stephen C. Schlesinger , Stephen Kinzer

Bitter Fruit is a comprehensive and insightful account of the CIA operation to overthrow the democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala in 1954. First published in 1982, this book has become a classic, a textbook case of the relationship between the United States and the Third World. The authors make extensive use of U.S. government documents and inter Bitter Fruit is a comprehensive and insightful account of the CIA operation to overthrow the democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala in 1954. First published in 1982, this book has become a classic, a textbook case of the relationship between the United States and the Third World. The authors make extensive use of U.S. government documents and interviews with former CIA and other officials. It is a warning of what happens when the United States abuses its power.

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3.7/5

Haiti: The Aftershocks of History by Laurent Dubois

A passionate and insightful account by a leading historian of Haiti that traces the sources of the country's devastating present back to its turbulent and traumatic history Even before the 2010 earthquake destroyed much of the country, Haiti was known as a benighted place of poverty and corruption. Maligned and misunderstood, the nation has long been blamed by many for its A passionate and insightful account by a leading historian of Haiti that traces the sources of the country's devastating present back to its turbulent and traumatic history Even before the 2010 earthquake destroyed much of the country, Haiti was known as a benighted place of poverty and corruption. Maligned and misunderstood, the nation has long been blamed by many for its own wretchedness. But as acclaimed historian Laurent Dubois makes clear, Haiti's troubled present can only be understood by examining its complex past. The country's difficulties are inextricably rooted in its founding revolution—the only successful slave revolt in the history of the world; the hostility that this rebellion generated among the colonial powers surrounding the island nation; and the intense struggle within Haiti itself to define its newfound freedom and realize its promise. Dubois vividly depicts the isolation and impoverishment that followed the 1804 uprising. He details how the crushing indemnity imposed by the former French rulers initiated a devastating cycle of debt, while frequent interventions by the United States—including a twenty-year military occupation—further undermined Haiti's independence. At the same time, Dubois shows, the internal debates about what Haiti should do with its hard-won liberty alienated the nation's leaders from the broader population, setting the stage for enduring political conflict. Yet as Dubois demonstrates, the Haitian people have never given up on their struggle for true democracy, creating a powerful culture insistent on autonomy and equality for all. Revealing what lies behind the familiar moniker of "the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere," this indispensable book illuminates the foundations on which a new Haiti might yet emerge.

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4.7/5

Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest by Matthew Restall

Here is an intriguing exploration of the ways in which the history of the Spanish Conquest has been misread and passed down to become popular knowledge of these events. The book offers a fresh account of the activities of the best-known conquistadors and explorers, including Columbus, Cort s, and Pizarro. Using a wide array of sources, historian Matthew Restall highlights s Here is an intriguing exploration of the ways in which the history of the Spanish Conquest has been misread and passed down to become popular knowledge of these events. The book offers a fresh account of the activities of the best-known conquistadors and explorers, including Columbus, Cort s, and Pizarro. Using a wide array of sources, historian Matthew Restall highlights seven key myths, uncovering the source of the inaccuracies and exploding the fallacies and misconceptions behind each myth. This vividly written and authoritative book shows, for instance, that native Americans did not take the conquistadors for gods and that small numbers of vastly outnumbered Spaniards did not bring down great empires with stunning rapidity. We discover that Columbus was correctly seen in his lifetime--and for decades after--as a briefly fortunate but unexceptional participant in efforts involving many southern Europeans. It was only much later that Columbus was portrayed as a great man who fought against the ignorance of his age to discover the new world. Another popular misconception--that the Conquistadors worked alone--is shattered by the revelation that vast numbers of black and native allies joined them in a conflict that pitted native Americans against each other. This and other factors, not the supposed superiority of the Spaniards, made conquests possible. The Conquest, Restall shows, was more complex--and more fascinating--than conventional histories have portrayed it. Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest offers a richer and more nuanced account of a key event in the history of the Americas.

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3.9/5

The Massacre at El Mozote by Mark Danner

In December 1981 soldiers of the Salvadoran Army's select, American-trained Atlacatl Battalion entered the village of El Mozote, where they murdered hundreds of men, women, and children, often by decapitation. Although reports of the massacre -- and photographs of its victims -- appeared in the United States, the Reagan administration quickly dismissed them as propaganda. In December 1981 soldiers of the Salvadoran Army's select, American-trained Atlacatl Battalion entered the village of El Mozote, where they murdered hundreds of men, women, and children, often by decapitation. Although reports of the massacre -- and photographs of its victims -- appeared in the United States, the Reagan administration quickly dismissed them as propaganda. In the end, El Mozote was forgotten. The war in El Salvador continued, with American funding. When Mark Danner's reconstruction of these events first appeared in The New Yorker, it sent shock waves through the news media and the American foreign-policy establishment. Now Danner has expanded his report into a brilliant book, adding new material as well as the actual sources. He has produced a masterpiece of scrupulous investigative journalism that is also a testament to the forgotten victims of a neglected theater of the cold war.

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3.1/5

Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America by Alma Guillermoprieto

From the esteemed New Yorker correspondent comes an incisive volume of essays and reportage that vividly illuminates Latin America’s recent history. Only Alma Guillermoprieto, the most highly regarded writer on the region, could unravel the complex threads of Colombia’s cocaine wars or assess the combination of despotism, charm, and political jiu-jitsu that has kept Fidel From the esteemed New Yorker correspondent comes an incisive volume of essays and reportage that vividly illuminates Latin America’s recent history. Only Alma Guillermoprieto, the most highly regarded writer on the region, could unravel the complex threads of Colombia’s cocaine wars or assess the combination of despotism, charm, and political jiu-jitsu that has kept Fidel Castro in power for more than 40 years. And no one else can write with such acumen and sympathy about statesmen and campesinos, leftist revolutionaries and right-wing militias, and political figures from Evita Peron to Mexico’s irrepressible president, Vicente Fox. Whether she is following the historic papal visit to Havana or staying awake for a pre-dawn interview with an insomniac Subcomandante Marcos, Guillermoprieto displays both the passion and knowledge of an insider and the perspective of a seasoned analyst. Looking for History is journalism in the finest traditions of Joan Didion, V. S. Naipaul, and Ryszard Kapucinski: observant, empathetic, and beautifully written.

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3.1/5

Americanos: Latin America's Struggle for Independence by John Charles Chasteen

A premier volume in Oxford's Pivotal Moments in World History series, Americanos offers an engagingly written, compact history of the Latin American wars of independence. Proceeding almost cinematically, scene by vivid scene, John Charles Chasteen introduces the reader to lead players, basic concepts, key events, and dominant trends, braided together in a single, taut narr A premier volume in Oxford's Pivotal Moments in World History series, Americanos offers an engagingly written, compact history of the Latin American wars of independence. Proceeding almost cinematically, scene by vivid scene, John Charles Chasteen introduces the reader to lead players, basic concepts, key events, and dominant trends, braided together in a single, taut narrative. He vividly depicts the individuals and events of those tumultuous years, capturing the gathering forces for independence, the clashes of troops and decisions of leaders, and the rich, elaborate tapestry of Latin American societies as they embraced nationhood.

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3/5

Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana by William M. Leogrande , Peter Kornbluh

Challenging the conventional wisdom of perpetual hostility between the United States and Cuba -- beyond invasions, covert operations, assassination plots using poison pens and exploding seashells, and a grinding economic embargo -- this fascinating book chronicles a surprising, untold history of bilateral efforts toward rapprochement and reconciliation. Since 1959, conflic Challenging the conventional wisdom of perpetual hostility between the United States and Cuba -- beyond invasions, covert operations, assassination plots using poison pens and exploding seashells, and a grinding economic embargo -- this fascinating book chronicles a surprising, untold history of bilateral efforts toward rapprochement and reconciliation. Since 1959, conflict and aggression have dominated the story of U.S.-Cuban relations. Now, LeoGrande and Kornbluh present a new and increasingly more relevant account. From Kennedy's offering of an olive branch to Castro after the missile crisis, to Kissinger's top secret quest for normalization, to Obama's promise of a "new approach," LeoGrande and Kornbluh reveal a fifty-year record of dialogue and negotiations, both open and furtive, indicating a path toward better relations in the future.

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3.1/5

Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States by Felipe FernĂĄndez-Armesto

The United States is still typically conceived of as an offshoot of England, with our history unfolding east to west beginning with the first English settlers in Jamestown. This view overlooks the significance of America’s Hispanic past. With the profile of the United States increasingly Hispanic, the importance of recovering the Hispanic dimension to our national story ha The United States is still typically conceived of as an offshoot of England, with our history unfolding east to west beginning with the first English settlers in Jamestown. This view overlooks the significance of America’s Hispanic past. With the profile of the United States increasingly Hispanic, the importance of recovering the Hispanic dimension to our national story has never been greater. This absorbing narrative begins with the explorers and conquistadores who planted Spain’s first colonies in Puerto Rico, Florida, and the Southwest. Missionaries and rancheros carry Spain’s expansive impulse into the late eighteenth century, settling California, mapping the American interior to the Rockies, and charting the Pacific coast. During the nineteenth century Anglo-America expands west under the banner of “Manifest Destiny” and consolidates control through war with Mexico. In the Hispanic resurgence that follows, it is the peoples of Latin America who overspread the continent, from the Hispanic heartland in the West to major cities such as Chicago, Miami, New York, and Boston. The United States clearly has a Hispanic present and future. And here is its Hispanic past, presented with characteristic insight and wit by one of our greatest historians.

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3.5/5

The Tupac Amaru Rebellion by Charles F. Walker

The largest rebellion in the history of Spain's American empire--a conflict greater in territory and costlier in lives than the contemporaneous American Revolution--began as a local revolt against colonial authorities in 1780. As an official collector of tribute for the imperial crown, Jose Gabriel Condorcanqui had seen firsthand what oppressive Spanish rule meant for Peru The largest rebellion in the history of Spain's American empire--a conflict greater in territory and costlier in lives than the contemporaneous American Revolution--began as a local revolt against colonial authorities in 1780. As an official collector of tribute for the imperial crown, Jose Gabriel Condorcanqui had seen firsthand what oppressive Spanish rule meant for Peru's Indian population. Adopting the Inca royal name Tupac Amaru, he set events in motion that would transform him into Latin America's most iconic revolutionary figure. Tupac Amaru's political aims were modest at first. He claimed to act on the Spanish king's behalf, expelling corrupt Spaniards and abolishing onerous taxes. But the rebellion became increasingly bloody as it spread throughout Peru and into parts of modern-day Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. By late 1780, Tupac Amaru, his wife Micaela Bastidas, and their followers had defeated the Spanish in numerous battles and gained control over a vast territory. As the rebellion swept through Indian villages to gain recruits and overthrow the Spanish corregidors," rumors spread that the Incas had returned to reclaim their kingdom. Charles Walker immerses readers in the rebellion's guerrilla campaigns, propaganda war, and brutal acts of retribution. He highlights the importance of Bastidas--the key strategist--and reassesses the role of the Catholic Church in the uprising's demise. The Tupac Amaru Rebellion "examines why a revolt that began as a multiclass alliance against European-born usurpers degenerated into a vicious caste war--and left a legacy that continues to influence South American politics today."

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3.8/5

Brasil: Uma Biografia by Lilia Moritz Schwarcz , Heloisa Murgel Starling

Aliando texto acessĂ­vel e agradĂĄvel, vasta documentação original e rica iconografia, Lilia Moritz Schwarcz e HeloĂ­sa Starling propĂ”em uma nova (e pouco convencional) histĂłria do Brasil. Nessa travessia de mais de quinhentos anos, se debruçam nĂŁo somente sobre a “grande histĂłria” mas tambĂ©m sobre o cotidiano, a expressĂŁo artĂ­stica e a cultura, as minorias, os ciclos econĂŽmi Aliando texto acessĂ­vel e agradĂĄvel, vasta documentação original e rica iconografia, Lilia Moritz Schwarcz e HeloĂ­sa Starling propĂ”em uma nova (e pouco convencional) histĂłria do Brasil. Nessa travessia de mais de quinhentos anos, se debruçam nĂŁo somente sobre a “grande histĂłria” mas tambĂ©m sobre o cotidiano, a expressĂŁo artĂ­stica e a cultura, as minorias, os ciclos econĂŽmicos e os conflitos sociais (muitas vezes subvertendo as datas e eventos consagrados pela tradição). No fundo da cena, mantĂȘm ainda diĂĄlogo constante com aqueles autores que, antes delas, se lançaram na difĂ­cil empreitada de tentar interpretar ou, pelo menos, entender o Brasil. A histĂłria que surge dessas pĂĄginas Ă© a de um longo processo de embates e avanços sociais inconclusos, em que a construção falhada da cidadania, a herança contraditĂłria da mestiçagem e a violĂȘncia aparecem como traços persistentes. “As autoras, com singular competĂȘncia, conseguem aliar clareza e consistĂȘncia, densidade e fluidez, rigor histĂłrico e prazer do texto.” — Lira Neto, autor de GetĂșlio “Este livro Ă© uma biografia nĂŁo autorizada de um personagem complexo chamado Brasil. Ele combina com muita qualidade vĂĄrias facetas desse personagem que se forma e se transforma ao longo de mais de cinco sĂ©culos, e continua se transformando atĂ© onde a vista pode alcançar.” — Boris Fausto, autor de HistĂłria do Brasil"

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4.4/5

Empire's Crossroads: A History of the Caribbean from Columbus to the Present Day by Carrie Gibson

Ever since Christopher Columbus stepped off the Santa Maria onto what is today San Salvador, in the Bahamas, and announced that he had arrived in the Orient, the Caribbean has been a stage for projected fantasies and competition between world powers. In Empire’s Crossroads, British American historian Carrie Gibson traces the story of this coveted area from the northern rim Ever since Christopher Columbus stepped off the Santa Maria onto what is today San Salvador, in the Bahamas, and announced that he had arrived in the Orient, the Caribbean has been a stage for projected fantasies and competition between world powers. In Empire’s Crossroads, British American historian Carrie Gibson traces the story of this coveted area from the northern rim of South America up to Cuba, and from discovery through colonialism to today, offering a vivid, panoramic view of this complex region and its rich, important history. After that fateful landing in 1492, the British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, and even the Swedes, Scots, and Germans sought their fortunes in the islands for the next two centuries. Some failed spectacularly: a poorly executed settlement in Panama led the Scots to lose their own independence to England. The Spaniards were the first to find prosperity, in Mexico but also along the islands. In Hispaniola, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, they built grandiose cathedrals and extracted shipfuls of gold and silver, which English, French, and Dutch pirates were happy to seize. But precious metals weren’t a sustainable export—the colonizers needed something that was, and they would need hordes of slaves to cultivate it. The Caribbean’s first cash crop, one indigenous to the New World, was tobacco, and it, along with sugar, spurred expensive new addictions back in Europe. Gibson argues that immaterial exports were just as important. No other region of the world has experienced such a vibrant mixing of cultures, religions, and peoples—Africans, Europeans, Asians, and Amerindians created amazingly dynamic Creole societies that complicated traditional ideas about class and race. By the end of the eighteenth century, seventy thousand free blacks and mulattos lived in the British islands alone, and it was in the Caribbean that the world’s only successful slave revolt took place—sparking the meteoric rise of Napoleon’s black counterpart, Toussaint L’Ouverture, and the Haitian Revolution. The Caribbean island of St. Eustatius had been the first to recognize the United States as a nation, but the Americans were soon vying for their own imperial stronghold in the West Indies, attempting to control Cuba and backing influential corporations, most notably United Fruit. In the twentieth century, most of the islands broke from the imperial traditions that had lorded over them for four centuries: this would be the explosive age of decolonization and “banana republics,” of racial riots and nĂ©gritude, of Cold War politics and tourist crowds. At every step of her expansive story, Gibson wields fascinating detail to combat the myths that have romanticized this region as one of uniform white sand beaches where the palm trees always sway. Evocatively written and featuring a whole cast of cosmopolitan characters, Empire’s Crossroads reinterprets five centuries of history that have been underappreciated for far too long.

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3/5

War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony by Nelson A. Denis

In 1950, after over fifty years of military occupation and colonial rule, the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico staged an unsuccessful armed insurrection against the United States. Violence swept through the island: assassins were sent to kill President Harry Truman, gunfights roared in eight towns, police stations and post offices were burned down. In order to suppress thi In 1950, after over fifty years of military occupation and colonial rule, the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico staged an unsuccessful armed insurrection against the United States. Violence swept through the island: assassins were sent to kill President Harry Truman, gunfights roared in eight towns, police stations and post offices were burned down. In order to suppress this uprising, the US Army deployed thousands of troops and bombarded two towns, marking the first time in history that the US government bombed its own citizens. Nelson A. Denis tells this powerful story through the controversial life of Pedro Albizu Campos, who served as the president of the Nationalist Party. A lawyer, chemical engineer, and the first Puerto Rican to graduate from Harvard Law School, Albizu Campos was imprisoned for twenty-five years and died under mysterious circumstances. By tracing his life and death, Denis shows how the journey of Albizu Campos is part of a larger story of Puerto Rico and US colonialism. Through oral histories, personal interviews, eyewitness accounts, congressional testimony, and recently declassified FBI files, War Against All Puerto Ricans tells the story of a forgotten revolution and its context in Puerto Rico's history, from the US invasion in 1898 to the modern-day struggle for self-determination. Denis provides an unflinching account of the gunfights, prison riots, political intrigue, FBI and CIA covert activity, and mass hysteria that accompanied this tumultuous period in Puerto Rican history.

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