Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Book Chavvez Gave to Barack Obama

This just arrived through the post from Serpent's Tail:

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...


Blogger Jud said...

Interesting subject. I am working more and more with folks from many different countries from South America, and their perspective is always eye-opening.

Thu May 21, 04:27:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Now your comment interests me even more...just going over to you to find out...

Thu May 21, 10:30:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember very well reading this book in 1987, during and after my visit to Venezuela. It was a real revelation to me, having grown up in the English education system and seen the Spanish, Portuguese etc colonionlism from, as Jud says, the opposite perspective.

Fri May 22, 11:14:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

That must have been a fascinating visit, Maxine. That's what the best travel does, I think - allows you to see the world from a new perspective.

Fri May 22, 11:50:00 am  
Anonymous john baker said...

I read that the copy Obama was given was in Spanish, so he probably won't be reading it.
I also had to do a lot of work on South America for my own novel, Winged with Death, and found a dearth of sources.
But when you start to dig both ancient and modern history of the region is fascinating.
Oh, yes, and Galeano - isn't he a wonderful writer?

Sat May 23, 11:33:00 am  

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