Caracas, Venezuela - [Pick: Simon Bolivar: A Life by John Lynch] This is a book for any American who truly wishes to understand what is behind today's Latin American turmoil.
Simón Bolivar is much more than just the inspirer of Hugo Chavez's authoritarian populism. Bolívar, the liberator of five South American countries (six if you count Panama, which was part of Colombia), continues to arouse all kinds of passions throughout the region.
The culto de Bolivar [the Bolivarian presonality cult] dates back at least as far as the late nineteenth century and has been carried on fervently up to the advent of Chavez's "Bolivarian movement" to power. This new biography of Bolivar is flawlessly researched, superbly well written and, best of all, uncommonly balanced. Lynch correctly points out that independence was Venezuela's grand moment in the history of the hemisphere. Bolivar was the hero of those days but, as Alvaro Vargas Llosa correctly points while
reviewing professsor Lynchs's book,"Bolivar...was certainly a much better caudillo than the others -- more strategic, more visionary, more learned. But he too belongs in the annals of the caudillos of Latin
America, and caudillismo is still the heart of the Latin American problem."
Simon Bolívar: A Life (Yale University Press, 368 pp., $30)
Please e-mail PostGlobal if you'd like to receive an email notification when PostGlobal sends out a new question.