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Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot Paperback – September 25, 2001

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Editorial Reviews


Three Latin Americans team up to shred the slavish political correctness that they see dominating Latin American elites…. Exaggerated, even unfair at times, this book nevertheless provides a rollicking good read. (Foreign Affairs)

Deeply iconoclastic…. It is a valuable work of historical conservation…it succeeds admirably. (The New Criterion)

About the Author

Plinio Mendoza, Carlos Montaner, and Alvaro Llosa are the authors of Los Fabricantes de Miseria. Mendoza lives in Bogota, Colombia; Montaner lives in Madrid; Llosa lives in Miami; and Michaela Ames lives in Ohio.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Madison Books (September 25, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156833236X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568332369
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,143,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

139 of 155 people found the following review helpful By Karen Helweg-Larsen on March 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I was very surprised to finally read a book that doesn't portray Latin America as a "victim" of the US or the Old World. I think these three authors intelligently challenge the populist ideologies and myths of the left and the right that have made so much damage all over the spanish speaking countries south of the USA. Having met many "perfect latin american idiots" in the past, I can see now why they are so enraged with the succes of this book. They are perfectly described and they don't look pretty. For anyone else, this book offers a fresh, sharp insight in to Latin American issues that until recently were considered property of marxist and nationalist leaning intellectuals. These writers are shooting straight to the heart and they make no apologies.
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45 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Brian M. Straight on July 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
I don't think anyone contends the US is innocent of many evils in Latin America. Everyone knows that we have done some bad stuff there. However, using that as the sole explanation for why the region continues underdeveloped is out of touch with reality. I get that sort of thing from professors in my Latin American studies grad program all the time and it rings hollow when one knows some of the counterfactual evidence in existense. This book does a good job of bringing that out. The only problem is that there are some factual accuracies. Example-- the authors ID 1977 as the year Archbishop Romero was killed in El Salvador. This is false. It was 1981, and they probably meant to refer to the 1976 assassination of Romero's friend Rutilio Grande. Little veting errors like this one are not too big a deal, though. The overall point that the US is not the only one to blame for Latin America's problems rings loud and clear. Ths authors do a sound job of making their case based on myriad historical examples which are well-documented and often selectively ignored by many aficionados of Latin American history who prefer to see the region as victims of Yankee aggression.
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44 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Geoff Puterbaugh on August 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
The authors meticulously tie down and skewer a particular type of Latin American Idiot, a "progressive leftist" who thinks that the "free market" is "inhuman," etc. etc.

But it's easy to see lots and lots of North American Idiots in this portrait, as well as handfuls of European Idiots. Noam Chomsky and Medea Benjamin fit right in, both wallowing in economic illiteracy.

This book can be very profitably read by anyone in the world! The main point the authors come back to over and over again is the silly idea that wealth is "stolen," and not created. That is, if a foreman in Detroit makes 50 times as much as an Indian peasant in the Andes, well, that lousy American stole it from the peasant. Or he "exploited" him.

We've all heard this nonsense many times before, mostly from people who are very comfortably off (Chomsky, for example, is a millionaire). But the simple fact is that the foreman in Detroit PRODUCES fifty times as much as that peasant in the Andes. Of course, the foreman is surrounded by competent workers and managers, and huge capital investment in machinery etc. BUT at the end of the day, you have to produce wealth in order to have it.

Think about that. The United States is, according to the Idiots, the supreme exploiter in the world today. Yet the booming American economy, some $12 trillion strong, is two-thirds based on services! How can services possibly exploit starving peasants in the Andes?

The new democratic government in Mexico is a pretty surprising example of the Idiots finally in retreat. With NAFTA in place, and foreign investment encouraged, the Mexican economy has managed to reach the threshold of a trillion dollars, with a per capita GDP of $10,000. That's doing marginally better than Thailand, and of course infinitely better than Cuba.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Brilliant....outstanding! Highly recommended!

This book is for Latin America what the fall of the Berlin Wall was for Europe.

Required reading for those interested in understanding Latin America and why it has been unable to achieve sustainable development, democratic stability and constructive relations with the United States.

"Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot" has been a best-seller throughout Latin America since its 1996 publication in Spanish. This fact, and its three distinguished authors representing different national perspectives, symbolize the dramatic paradigm shift taking place in the region.

This book is ideal for introductory courses in Latin American Studies to counter the rigid leftist orthodoxy and "political correctness" that dominates so many universities, high schools, NGOs and international agencies. It is these outdated leftist views that have confused and misled so many about why Latin America and the Caribbean continue to be mired in poverty, violence, corruption and underdevelopment.

It demonstrates how leftist "idiots" not only in Latin America, but those in the United States and Europe, have paralyzed the region in a culture of "victimization", creating deep resentments and distrust of market economies, private property, foreign investment, multinational corporations, globalization and the United States. It is these leftist-statist-mercantilist-corporatist attitudes that dominated many Latin Americans throughout the 20th century and continue even today, as so clearly demonstrated by Castro in Cuba, Chavez in Venezuela, Ortega in Nicaragua, Aristide in Haiti, Bucaram in Ecuador, Allan Garcia in Peru, Lula in Brazil among others.
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