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Michael Shifter…as broad in its historic sweep as Galeano's classic [Open Veins of Latin America]…
—The Washington Post
For most Westerners, Latin America is the junior partner of the New World, an underdeveloped sibling to the United States and Canada. In his provocative and powerful book, Oscar Guardiola-Rivera shows how Latin America and its people are making their presence felt across the world by upsetting long-standing political and economic assumptions and orthodoxies. The United States will still occupy center stage in the West for the time being, but few observers have taken notice of the rapid growth of Spanish language ...
For most Westerners, Latin America is the junior partner of the New World, an underdeveloped sibling to the United States and Canada. In his provocative and powerful book, Oscar Guardiola-Rivera shows how Latin America and its people are making their presence felt across the world by upsetting long-standing political and economic assumptions and orthodoxies. The United States will still occupy center stage in the West for the time being, but few observers have taken notice of the rapid growth of Spanish language and culture within the United States—which is quietly and quickly becoming part of Latin America in its own way. Guardiola-Rivera’s stimulating work is equally a hidden history of the modern world (the silver peso was the first global currency) and a piercing look at the future. Latin America has been in the vanguard of opposition to globalization, and its politics are imaginative, innovative, and unlike those anywhere else in the world. For anyone interested in the future of the Western Hemisphere or the world economy, What if Latin America Ruled the World? is a must-read
An expert in the region makes the case for the rise of Latin America.
"We are gold-eaters," said Hernán Cortés to Moctezuma's priests. It turned out that the conquistadores and their imperial successors were eaters ofallLatin America's riches, including silver, fruit, rubber, cacao, copper, sugar, lumber, oil and more. In the best passages, Guardiola-Rivera (International Law and International Affairs, Birkbeck College, Univ. of London;Being Against the World: Rebellion and Constitution, 2008) captures the greed of the conquerors, how their lust for gold stimulated world capitalism at its inception and how their drive for power choked off the enslaved Amerindians' dream of a life centered on the collective welfare. That dream, he argues, is set for revival. With America's political identity transformed as it becomes primarily Latino by 2040, with formerly subjugated nations emerging from the nightmare of colonial exploitation and countries like Brazil taking its place on the world stage and with the challenge of climate change and the global financial meltdown forcing reconsideration of political, social and economic models, the world will look to Latin America for instruction. The continent's cultural lessons emerge from a tradition of rich social relations, environmental sensitivity, legal racial equality, antimilitarism and common access to and ownership of life's essentials. Relying on archival documents and his own travels and interviews with government ministers, journalists and activists, Guardiola-Rivera assembles a richly allusive, if idiosyncratic history of the European conquest and the continent's subsequent struggle against dependency. He easily mixes history's familiars—e.g., Atahualpa, Columbus, Balboa, Bolívar, Murrieta, Guevara—with tales of lesser knowns like the adventurer William Walker and the entrepreneur Charles Flint, who fomented and profited from private wars against sovereign nations. The author manages far less successfully to persuade us that Latin America will assume such a prominent global leadership role. In a narrative marred by professor-speak, wordiness, leftist cliché and assertions masquerading as argument, the effect is ultimately wearying rather than convincing.
Grist for a graduate seminar, but a slow grind for everyone else.
Posted February 21, 2014
I have lived and worked in Central and South America. Quite believable. We in the US have a tendency to ignor our family in the south, and I think most readers would be surprised at the contents. Not to be scoffed at.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 14, 2011
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