Friday, January 30, 2009

Book Review: Forgotten Continent


Reid, Michael. Forgotten Continent: the Battle for Latin America's Soul. New Haven, CT; Yale University Press, 2007.

This book was much more a history than a theoretical work. I don't have much of a background in Latin American history, so it's worthwhile in that regard anyway.

The theory, such as it is, is that history has a sacred place in Latin America--everything is interpreted in light of the recent or not-so-recent past. The interpretation of history is the source of political power--if a policy can be linked to a historical high period it is accepted, and vise versa (which goes a long ways towards explaining Chavez' ceaseless references to Bolivar).

The battle for Latin America's soul, therefore, is the dispute over the legacy of Latin America's founders. Does it belong to the populists or the democrats? Whose interpretation will be accepted?

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