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The Contemporary History of Latin America (Latin America in Translation)

9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0822313748
ISBN-10: 082231374X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"If Halperín's book owes its interpretive power and revisionist insights to the perspective and ideas of the economists concerned with the roots of Latin American underdevelopment, it tempers these insights with a historian's broad view of historical change, a wide familiarity with primary documents, and an unrivaled command over available secondary sources."—Charles Berquist, University of Washington, Seattle


"The translation of this classic work is long overdue. Halperín's remarkably skillful at interweaving threads of social, political, and economic history into a coherent whole in a way very few historians can."—Deborah Jakubs, Council on Latin American Studies

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Spanish

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Product Details

  • Series: Latin America in Translation
  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (September 27, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082231374X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822313748
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By B. Alcat on May 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
The aim of the author, in this book, is to allow the reader to learn more about the Contemporary History of Latin America. His objective is quite difficult to achieve, because Latinoamerican countries are notably diverse, and their history is different. Despite that, Halperin Donghi accomplishes his objective very well, by highlighting the processes that those countries have in common, but without ignoring their differences.
"The Contemporary History of Latin America" is divided in nine chapters and an epilogue. At the beginning of each one, the author gives us a general overview of the economic and social developments common to the whole region, and afterwards he studies the political developments in each country. The book begins by an analysis of "The colonial heritage", and afterwards studies "The crisis of independence" (1810-1825), "The early national period" (1825-1850), the "Emergence of the neocolonial order" (1850-1880), the "Maturity of the neocolonial order" (1880-1930), and the problematic periods that followed: from 1930 to 1945 (economic crisis and preparations for the Second World War), from 1945 to 1960 (the postwar period), and from 1960 to 1970. Halperin Donghi also talks about events that happened not so long ago, and tries to be impartial. In my opinion, he succeeds...
This book isn't exhaustive, but it doesn't pretend to be so. In my opinion, it is a very good introduction to the History of Latin America, but it is only that: an introduction. You will need to go on reading, and studying, if you want to learn more about each country. On the other hand, even if you need to read more books, you might as well start by reading this one, because it is a classic on the subject.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By L. Nery on August 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
Considering the unpretentiouness of this book regarding in-depth analysis, the prose could be less contrived and monotonous. The facts presented in the book, overall, were already familiar to me because I have been studying ths subject lately. I must say that the author's analyses, even if superficial, are worthy of respect - he clearly knows the subject and is not falling for hasty and inaccurate generalizations. When he generalizes, he says so.

Even then, I found the text incredibly boring and had to fight sleep while reading it. He could have added some spice to the text by mentioning a few anecdotes, some colorful examples, some interesting comparisons, etc. I gave it 3 stars because the text is too dry and this is unnecessary and undesirable considering its subject matter.
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By Earl Cherry Jr on May 9, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great book that looks at the history of Latin America, but don't let the title fool you. It starts well before the "contemporary" period, and does a great job of explaining how the Latin America of the past became Contemporary Latin America.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Pactor VINE VOICE on November 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
It should be probably be called "The Contemporary Histories of Latin America." I read this book from the perspective of a generalist with an inclination to learn more about this subject, and I was not disappointed. The occasionally ponderous writing style is only a minor flaw- the book is translated from spanish to english, so I'm willing to cut everyone some slack. The jacket copy bills this as the most widely read single volume history of the area, and based on what I read I imagine it must be favored by universities in the U.S., Latin American and Europe to earn that title.

The history of Latin America encompasses three periods: the colonial period, the emergence of the nation state & the post WWI history of the nations. The idea of a shared "latin american history" for the first two time periods make sense, but only the fact that the nation states developed individual identities quite late in the time period covered makes the third part feel like anything more then a series of tacked on national histories.

As an American, it was interesting to read a take on U.S./Latin American relations that left beyond the Naomi Wolf style histronics of "Disaster Capitalism." I came away from this look feeling a little better about the U.S.'s mixed track record in Latin American foreign policy: It's quite impossible to blame the U.S. for any long term problems in the region- issues of economic underdevelopment and unstable politics have plagued Latin America from the very beginning.
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Format: Paperback
This is a foundational text for those interested in the history of Latin America. Should be in every bibliography.
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