The Book Chavvez Gave to Barack Obama
Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano is a 'comprehensive endictment of the pillaging of South America'.
South America has undoubtedly been pillaged - not just the mineral resources and its livestock, but its people and forests too. A few years ago when I was researching for my Patagonian novel I found it unexpectedly difficult to find anything very much on the history of South America. Looking through the shelves of my local bookshops, for instance, yielded only this: The Epic of Latin America by John Crow.
Which is detailed and well-written, and yet, despite its size (998 pages) is 'just' an introduction to this vast complex subject.
South America is still being pillaged. In Patagonia I met an old woman who was living on her own, miles away from anyone else - armed with a rifle she was quite able and happy to use - valiantly resisting robbers and 'a well-known fashion manufacturer' who both had designs on her land.
And then, of course, there is the most important resource of them all - the Amazonian rain forest. The continual pillaging of this is likely to have repercussions for us all. Which means Open Veins is indeed 'essential reading' - and, besides, I rather like the idea of reading the same book on my bedside table as the President of the United States of America. I could even twitter him to see how he's getting along...