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Bolivar: The Liberator of Latin America Hardcover – June 1, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing; 1ST edition (June 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616083166
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616083168
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,909,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Starred Review. This is a masterful biography, ideal for general readers.” (Booklist)

About the Author

Robert Harvey has been a columnist for the Daily Telegraph, assistant editor of the Economist, and a member of British Parliament. He is the author of many books, including The War of Wars; The Undefeated: The Rise, Fall, and Rise of Greater Japan; Portugal: Birth of a Democracy; Liberators; Global Disorder: America and the Threat of World Conflict; Cochrane; and Bolivar.

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 8 customer reviews
I found I had to keep leaving the book to go look up facts on material that seemed suspect.
The first third of the book, concerned as it is with Miranda's and Bolivar's development in the hothouse of European political thought, makes for great storytelling.
Stephen Siciliano
The book takes the reader back to his youth and how this basically orphan young man had the vision to break ties from Spain.
Dr. Wilson Trivino

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Siciliano VINE VOICE on June 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
One country's demi-god can be another's historical relic.

Simon Bolivar's profile in the United States is not a prominent one. Years ago there was a chapter somewhere in the elementary or middle school textbooks, but beyond that this prominent figure has not been the subject of an HBO miniseries, a biopic starring Antonio Banderas, or any such pop culture effluvia.

Robert Harvey has set out to change that in "Bolivar: The Liberator of Latin America."

He writes of his subject, "Yet as soldier, statesman and man of common humanity he stands head and shoulders above any other figure that Latin America has ever produced and amongst the greatest men in global history."

Given South America's status as perennial political delinquent and woeful economic laggard, the first half of his proposition is neither hard to argue with, nor much of a claim.

It is in support of the second that Harvey, a one-time scribe for the "Daily Telegraph" and "The Economist," sets out to make a case.

The task is a challenging one, not because of Bolivar's accomplishments, which were myriad and impressive, rather due to the staggering size and complexity of the continent in question, and the subject's disappointing lapses in judgment or, worse, humanity.

Harvey's recounting is an A to Z affair, tarrying long on the young Bolivar's development as a dissolute young man privileged enough to steep in the thought of Rousseau and the Europe where his writings were all the contemporary rage.

It's a portrait of another time and a disappeared class of person groomed with patience for whatever great feats might be in the offing.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Steven M. Anthony on May 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
If historians were to compile a list of the 50 most influential individuals in world history, Simon Bolivar would almost certainly be on the list. As the single most responsible party for the independence of Latin America, he is the Southern Hemisphere's equivalent of George Washington, only arguably more significant, given the territory and the populations involved.

In fact, the similarities are striking, right up to the point of independence, at which point Washington assumed the Presidency for a period of eight years and then stepped down voluntarily, though urged by many to assume the position of dictator. Bolivar, on the other hand, was forced to retain control over his bastard creation, an amalgam of peoples and cultures so divergent that any federation was doomed to failure. Though he professed a desire for liberal democracy, he recognized the need for a strong executive, and while spurning the title of "dictator", sought the Presidency "for life", a distinction in name only. As pointed out by the Author:

"He could now claim to be the ruler of one of the greatest empires of any military leader in history, some 1 million square miles in extent. He was on a par with Tamerlane, Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great and Augustus Caesar."

At its peak, the territory under Bolivar's control included the present day countries of Venezuela, Columbia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia; all freed from Spanish control either through the military strategies and prowess of Bolivar directly or that of his hand picked generals. Gradually, as his control slipped and regional opponents emerged, the empire broke apart into its current political subdivisions, almost uniformly ruled by a succession of military strong men.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Al Reds on June 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is an interesting book, unfortunately in need of much better editing as there are factual errors that needed to be verified. Most notable one that almost made me quit reading was on Chapter 1, mind you, that states Bolivar " ... was born on 24 January 1783 ...". One wonders why such an important date was erroneously quoted, as he was actually born 24 JULY 1783. However, if you're able to ignore this fatal flaw and keep reading you'll find an interesting account of Bolivar and his times, hence my four stars rating.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a decent book but I was expecting more after seeing how big the book looked and the reviews on the jacket. There are some great chapters in this book like I would say the first 3 or so about Bolivar's early life and the last chapter is excellent. Otherwise the book is a disappointment. My main issue with this book is that it feels more like a historical account of the revolution than a book about Simon Bolivar. After reading this book I did not feel like I knew a lot more about Bolivar than I did before which should be the goal of any half decent biography. Yes Bolivar was the central figure of this revolution and he gets a lot of the focus of this book but you don't get to know enough about him and what made him tick as a man. The book has a misleading title and is uneven in content. Many times it feels bogged down by the details of the battles that occurred during the revolution for South America's independence from Spain. Some chapters frankly were a chore to read.

One interesting thing about this book is that the author's section on Francisco de Miranda is fascinating. I feel the author would have likely written a much more interesting book about Miranda who frankly is an under-appreciated historical figure in his own right and deserves a well written text. The passage on Miranda is exactly the kind of insight I was looking for in regards to Bolivar that this book does not deliver besides in uneven spurts here and there. Solid read for a cursory overview of this revolution but not a good biography of Simon Bolivar. 3 stars.
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