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Cowboy in Caracas: A North American's Memoir of Venezuela's Democratic Revolution Paperback – April 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 145 pages
  • Publisher: Curbstone Books; First Edition (states) edition (April 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931896372
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931896375
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 6.3 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #959,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Like Chavez, the author has given a platform to the people's hopes and dreams." -- Morning Star, Great Britain


"This book is a must read for all Americans--but a must read that you won't be able to put down." -- Dave Lindorff, columnist for Counterpunch and co-author, with Barbara Olshansky, of The Case for Impeachment



"This book is an antidote to the poisonous US government mantra against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez." -- Saul Landau, author of A Bush & Botox World

About the Author

Charles Hardy has been writing and speaking about the political and social reality of Latin America for over forty years. He has visited almost every Central and South American country.

James Russell is the author of five books, including After the Fifth Sun: Class and Race in North America (Prentice Hall). Currently, he teaches sociology and directs the Latin American Studies Program at Eastern Connecticut State University.


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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mr. James F. Lindsay on September 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
I almost missed my stop on the Caracas metro because I was so engrossed in "Cowboy in Caracas". Charles Hardy worked as a priest for many years in one of Caracas's slums and knows its people well. If you want to understand Venezuela's democratic revolution ignore the bile in the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and read this book.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By April E. Mahoney on August 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
Charles Hardy's memoir COWBOY IN CARACAS: A NORTH AMERICAN'S MEMOIR OF VENEZUELA'S DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION (Curbstone Press, ISBN: 978-1-931896-37-5, $15.00) gives a much-needed voice to the impoverished living in Venezuela. Condemned by big business and the American government, democratically elected Hugo Chávez became a representative of the underrepresented. Hardy gives a detailed firsthand account of life in Venezuela before and after the Bolivarian Revolution.
Hardy sets the stage, describing the chaos and corruption wrought by the Venezuelan government prior to the election of Chávez. Leaving no stone unturned, Hardy addresses the events following the election, including the many unjustified and unsuccessful attempts to remove Chávez from office. Exposing the manipulative methods of the opposition, Hardy gives the reader a glimpse of why the rich hated Chávez, but also why the Venezuelan poor adored him.
This is a very important book told from an all too often neglected perspective. Hardy watches barrio dwellers leave pressed cardboard shacks that lacked indoor plumbing (the type of home he lived in for much of his stay in Venezuela) and move into much more suitable apartment-style housing. Changes like these could have only occurred during the administration of Chávez. The reader is brought into the lives of these impoverished people (it is estimated that eighty percent of Venezuelans are living in poverty), and is able to see how necessary it is for them to be represented by a president who is willing to look out for their best interests. The message of Hardy's book can best be expressed through a statement he makes on page 19, "It is often simply difficult to understand what one has never experienced. And yet, if we truly want a better world for everyone, we've got to try." This book is essential to knowing what is truly going on in Venezuela beyond what the news media wants the world to believe.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jono A. Anzalone on March 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
Hardy's accounts of 25 years in Venezuela are both moving and eye opening. For a true account of what democracy should be, I highly recommend the text!
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Neill S. Rosenfeld on March 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
When he was a Roman Catholic priest, Charles Hardy was sent to Caracas, Venezuela, to work with the poorest of the poor in 1985. While living among them for eight years in a cardboard shack without sanitary facilities, as well as in the years that have followed, he has witnessed the drama of social and political change under Hugo Chavez that has substantially improved their situation.

In his lucid and conversationally written book, "Cowboy in Caracas," Hardy recounts his often moving experiences while providing a perspective on Chavez's Bolivarian revolution that is far different from that which we in the United States get from our media - the perspective of the 80 percent of Venezuelans who are poor, not of the small but vocal minority who, as I see it, want to reclaim their traditional control of the country's wealth. (That minority runs the Venezuelan news media, which continually maligns Chavez and overtly participated in the failed US-backed coup against him in 2002, as well as a subsequent attempt to strangle the economy in order to force him out; in each case the people literally put their bodies on the line to support Chavez, thwarting those efforts.)

While keeping his focus on the Venezuelans he has met, Hardy vividly illustrates the reality of a country that, UNESCO says, in a year and a half wiped out illiteracy; has opened thousands of schools in rural areas; has created new universities which any Venezuelan can attend without tuition; has provided seed money to farmers and rural women who have started cottage industries; and has substantially expanded cost-free health services.

Don't get me wrong: Charles Hardy is no shill for the government, but he does think it has done many things that benefit the vast majority of Venezuelans. If you want an entertaining and humanistic account of what I see as a dynamic country that has little in common with the menace that Bush administration portrays, give "Cowboy in Caracas" a try.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By G. D. Bottoms on March 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
For a first hand account of Venezuela's revolution you can do no better than to read this book. Written from the perspective of the barrio people in Caracas, Charles Hardy is an ex-Roman Catholic priest who shares his experiences of life lived in a house of pressed cardboard with no sanitation from 1985 until 1994 when Hugo Chavez was released from prison to become the hope of the poor.

This is an extremely warm and human record of the progress of the Bolivarian Revolution that is full of anecdotes interspersed with deep reflection on the Venezuelan reality. It has the capacity to illuminate, educate, and motivate in comparing the unjust and unequal society that kept 20% of the population in luxury while the 80% struggled to survive with the empowerment of the people today as they move towards twenty-first century socialism.

Beginning with the Caracazo or social explosion of 1989 triggered by the rise in petrol prices that marked the meltdown of the old regime, and continuing with the rise to power of the charismatic President Chavez, the short-lived coup of 2002 following reform of the national oil company PDVSA, and the oil strike later that year, Hardy paints a picture of a society undergoing monumental change at the hands of the ordinary people.

Coming from Wyoming that is also rich in oil and cattle Hardy cuts through the lies and propaganda issuing from Washington to reveal the real truth about the revolutionary process that is taking place in Venezuela under a popular president who is truly of the people. In the author's own words it is an account of "the world's best-kept secret of democracy".

As a people's history and brief readable introduction to the awakening of Venezuela's dispossessed this is a book that identifies with the real protagonists of social change in a country at the sharp edge of Latin American integration and should be on the bookshelf of all those who claim to have a stake in the future.
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