Ideas and Power in Latin America
By Enrique Krauze
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780066214733, 560pp.)
Publication Date: August 1, 2011
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Latin America has been of vital importance to the United States almost since the birth of our nation, and the significance of this relationship has only increased in recent decades. But mutual understanding between these regions is lacking, even as Latin Americans are striving to promote the values of democracy in their native countries and beyond. Why has this process proved to be such a struggle, and what does the future of the region hold?
In Redeemers, acclaimed historian Enrique Krauze presents the major ideas that have formed the modern Latin American political mind during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from early postcolonial authoritarian regimes to nineteenth-century Liberalism and Conservatism, and then the impact of Socialism and Marxism as well as nationalism and indigenism and the movement toward liberal democracy of recent years. Krauze looks closely at how these ideas have been expressed in the lives of influential revolutionaries, thinkers, poets, and novelists figures whose lives were marked by a passionate involvement in history, power, and, for some, revolution, as well as a personal commitment to love, friendship, and family. Krauze's subjects come from across the continents. Here are the Cuban Jose Marti; the Argentines Che Guevara and Evita Peron; the groundbreaking political thinkers Jose Vasconcelos of Mexico and Jose Carlos Mariategui from Peru. Writers Jose Enrique Rodo, Mario Vargas Llosa, Octavio Paz, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez reinforce the importance of imagination to inspire social change.
Redeemers also highlights Mexico's Samuel Ruiz and Subcomandante Marcos and Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez, and their influence on contemporary Latin America.
In this brilliant and deeply researched history, Enrique Krauze uses the range of these extraordinary lives to illuminate the struggle that has defined Latin American history: an ever-precarious balance between the ideal of democracy and the temptation of political messianism. Through this comprehensive collage of the distinct but interconnected experiences and views of these twelve fascinating cultural and political figures, we can better understand how this balance continues to affect Latin America today and how its nations will define themselves and relate to the larger world in the years ahead.
Enrique Krauze is the author of twenty books, including Mexico: Biography of Power. He has written for The New York Times, The New Republic, Dissent magazine, The Washington Post, and The New York Review of Books. Krauze lives in Mexico City.
“An ambitious attempt to trace the interaction of ideas and power in Hispanic America.”
-The Wall Street Journal
“Krauze is marked by a rare and attractive gift for noticing the several ways that, under the bright sun of the imagination, and kingdom of politics and the kingdom of literature sometimes merge.”
-Paul Berman, The New York Times Book Review
“Erudite and wise. . . . A magisterial history of the ideas, books and politics that shaped modern Latin America, from 19th-century liberalism to revolutionary commitments and back again towards modern, more democratic versions of liberal thought.”
-The Financial Times
“An engaging mixture of biography and historical currents in the style of Isaiah Berlin or Edmund Wilson, thus allowing lay readers to follow what can sometimes be a dizzying succession of revolutions, doctrine and caudillos.”
“Krauze illuminates Latin American thought and politics in a vibrant and invaluable blend of biography and analysis. . . . Redeemers provides discerning and much-needed insight into our dynamic neighbors.”
“Highly readable. . . . An important book.”
-The Tuscon Citizen
“Krauze attempts to weave together the disparate threads of all the feuding orthodoxies through mini-biographies of 12 leaders and thinkers. Krauze, perhaps Mexico’s most widely respected intellectual, is uniquely suited to the task, and the resulting tapestry is both persuasive and evocative.”
“An engaging survey of the ideas and quasi-religious convictions that have powered modern Latin America’s consequential political movements.”
“Krauze is, without a doubt, one of the most renowned and important intellectuals in Mexico. . . . He has developed a prose style of expressive clarity and metaphoric restraint that has enormous impact. His books read like novels: the greatest possible achievement for a historian of ideas.”
“Redeemers is a fundamental work for our time. . . . All the chapters are written with fluid movement, intelligent precision, and felicitous language. You read them with the expectation and excitement offered by the best novels.”
-Mario Vargas Llosa, El País