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Posted August 15, 2012
Posted July 6, 2012
Too many platitudes and too many declarative statements that then get contradicted a few pages later. Another problem is you don't really get a feel for the man. Here's a guy that keeps trying, even after making mistakes and getting soundly defeated repeatedly. And he keeps coming back for more. Even if the author couldn't fully address the why (ok, Bolivar is a visionary and a patriot), he could at least address the how at lot better than he does (one minute he's a refugee in the Caribbean and then with shockingly few details, he's suddenly controlling large swaths of northern South America). We're just told he's this awesome general (so how come he gets trounced on more than one occasion?) this amazing statesman/politician (again, parts of the narrative seem to suggest it's more nuanced), and unbelievable organizer (I'd still love to know HOW he pulls together armies and supplies as opposed to just having them appear without a word of explanation). Bolivar -- and many of the leading people of his time that seem like they are worth elaborating on -- are more caricatures than someone the author has helped you get to understand.
It feels like Lynch is assuming that his readers already know much of the story, so he can gloss over things and make unsupported claims about people and events. He also may have fallen for Bolivar the myth, rather than searching for the historical man.
Sadly, I am not sure there is better biography of Bolivar available in English at this point. Hopefully someone will give him the definitive treatment he deserves one day.