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Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America's Soul Hardcover – January 3, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (January 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300116160
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300116168
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,116,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"[A] comprehensive and erudite assessment of the region. . . . While the social and economic face of Latin America is becoming more attractive, political life remains ugly and, in some countries, is getting even uglier."—Moisés Naim, Washington Post
(Moisés Naim Washington Post 2008-03-23)

"No one who seriously aspires to discuss Latin American politics, economics and culture should go without reading Forgotten Continent."—Jorge Castaneda and Patricio Navia, National Interest
(Josge Castaneda and Patricio Navia National Interest 2008-08-01)

"Reid's account is essential reading for its clear portrayal of what can be called a post—'Washington consensus' view of Latin America."—Steven Volk, The Journal of American History
(Steven Volk The Journal of American History 2008-12-01)

"Reid's book offers something valuable to both specialists and the general reading public. . . . He writes of Latin America with great empathy, intelligence, and insight."—James Brennan, Hispanic American Historical Review
(James Brennan Hispanic American Historical Review 2009-12-01)

"[An] intelligent and thoughtful overview. . . . Reid offers a serious and well-written synthesis of Latin America's political economy that is meticulously supported by a wealth of data and the work of the best scholars studying the region."—Donald Share, The Americas
(Donald Share The Americas)

About the Author

Michael Reid is editor of the Americas section of the Economist. Previously based in Brazil, Mexico, and Peru, he has traveled throughout Latin America and reported for the BBC, the Guardian, and the Economist since 1982.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Omer Belsky on April 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michael Reid's task in "Forgotten Continent" is onerous: in one book - a large one, to be sure - he wants to summarize two hundred years of a continent's history, and to argue that Latin America is now ready for a major change: the embrace of Free Market Democracy in earnest for the first time.

The thesis of the book is simple: Latin America is torn between reformers - democrats who support free markets and democracy, and populists - who support neither. Reid argues that although the populists have considerable appeal in the region, the tide has turned against them. Unlike previous eras, the current embrace of democracy and capitalism - augmented with a great deal of redistribution policies - is here to last.

Surprisingly for a journalist, Reid's history of Latin American, in three large chapters which take us from the 1820s to the 1990s, is cumbersome and hard to read. It is only when he gets to economic history that Reid, a correspondent for The Economist, hits his stride; A chapter on the development of the Washington Consensus is fascinating; I've read general economic accounts of 1997-1998 crisis (e.g. Paul Krugman's The Return of Depression Economics) and a specific study of Argentina's woes (Paul Bluestein's
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By BRANDON KNOX on February 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In "Forgotten Continent" Michael Reid offers a balanced, and in many ways refreshing, interpretation of modern Latin America. He eschews two common, competing views of the region, disagreeing with the leftist argument that Latin America has been a victim of "neoliberalism" and globalization, as well as the opposing thesis that Latin countries are doomed to dictatorship and poverty due to deeply rooted cultural impediments. Instead, Reid argues that Latin America has made tremendous strides--economically, politically, and socially--during the past quarter century. Despite his largely positive assessment, the author is under no illusion regarding the continued challenges facing the region. Its largest challenge comes from populism, best embodied by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, and the continuing temptation of economic policies that have proved disastrous in the past.

While the text is at times dry (especially in sections heavy on economics), overall it offers a fresh take on a part of the world that does not receive much attention among the popular press. After reading the book, I could not help but to share some of Reid's cautious optimism about the "forgotten continent." This book can be enjoyed both by Latinamericanists and curious newcomers alike.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bamber Gascoigne on July 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
A strong neoliberal perspective; he sees the "battle" as between rational approaches to development and self-destructive, authoritarian-tending populism. Presents both sides but isn't very sympathetic to his opponents' POV. But it's a very clear, complexly schematic modern historical account of how the continent got to where it is and where it should go from here.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Agustin Guerrero on January 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is very sad that we in Latin America have to learn more about the history and current affairs of our continent from foreign writers. Our own literature is full on panegirists of the left that even confronted with the sham that is Cuba and its totalitarian regime that has failed in providing a better life for its masses still try to sell us the idea that revolution and marxism is the way to go for our development. Living in Ecuador, currently under the XXI Century Socialist regime of Correa and having everyday to hear his endless tirades and propaganda and knowing that most of what he sells is untrue and that populism is probably the main cause of our backwardness this book was very refreshing to me.

You have to look at the good examples such as Chile and even Colombia or Peru are currently developing their nations based on a democratic and open market model of development. We are capable people in this continent, we are passionate and hard workers and with a capable state apparatus we can achieve a good life and development but we are also gullible and still expect a miracle from an iluminated leader that magically transforms our societies and can achieve development with social equity but without sacrifices. This explains how Chavez, Correa, Morales, Ortega, the Kirchner couple have achieved power through their badly executed and corrupt social investment and redistribution schemes and that is why potentially rich countries such as Venezuela and Argentina are declining instead of moving forward.

I hope every educated person in Latin America have the opportunity of reading this book so at least they can glimpse the truth from other perspective. For me it was an eye oppener and I live this reality every day.
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