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Hugo!: The Hugo Chavez Story from Mud Hut to Perpetual Revolution Hardcover – September 4, 2007

26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While opinions of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez vary tremendously on a global scale, there are few defenses of him available in the United States. This biography by Bart Jones, a former AP correspondent from Venezuela, attempts to level the ground. Without taking a political stance, Jones provides a nuanced account of the Venezuelan leader's life, creating a portrait that is, if not sympathetic, certainly more balanced than previous ones. For example, when Chávez characterized President Bush as the devil at the U.N. in 2006, most American news sources presented it as a crude and clownlike gesture. According to Jones, Chávez is hardly just a jester, but uses vulgarity to remind his friends and his enemies of his humble beginnings, as well as to win a tremendous amount of publicity. Jones's precise and entertaining account moves smoothly through Chávez's beginnings up to his current position, making Venezuelan history accessible. (Sept. 4)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Newsday reporter Jones worked for eight years in Venezuela as an Associated Press reporter, watching Chávez's fascinating political career unfold. He chronicles Chávez's life: a childhood of poverty, military training, adoption of the principles of Simón Bolívar on South American independence, failed coup to overthrow President Pérez, imprisonment, and his own controversial presidency beginning in 1998. From a nation best known for its oil reserves and its beauty queens, Chávez is making a mark internationally and is often compared to Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Jones traces Chávez's personal and political history, his hunger to unite all of South America in development and provide social justice for Venezuela's poor, as well as the economic programs that have raised the ire of the U.S. A photographic insert adds to this important chronicle of one of the most compelling figures in politics today. Bush, Vanessa

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 568 pages
  • Publisher: Steerforth; First Edition edition (September 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586421352
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586421359
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,193,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Judith S. West on November 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Considering what the mainstream media has to say about Hugo Chavez whenever the opportunity arises (and that is very frequently, considering how quickly changes are taking place in Venezuela) this book is, indeed, a must read. No matter what your opinion of Chavez is, Bart Jones presents a fine journalist's account of the modern history of Venezuela, it's leaders, and the life of its current president.

What also makes the book very important is the fact that it's a "good read". Unfortunately, too many times, books that are historically or politicly valuable are so poorly written. In this case, in addition to having done his homework about his subject Mister Jones presents his information with the skills of a disciplined writer.

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35 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Adam J. Jones on November 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I entirely empathize with the previous reviewer who stated: "I lost sleep two nights running because I just couldn't put the book down." This book reads like a great Latin American novel, and there are chapters that rank with the best freelance journalism I have ever read. Jones is not blind to Chavez's flaws and "undiplomatic" manner. But he makes clear how Chavez, alone among Venezuelan politicians of the post-independence era, has captured the imagination of the poor and made them a priority in his economic and social policies. The accounts of Chavez's original failed coup, and the coup attempt and strikes against him after he took power, are absolutely palpitating. And there were points where I had tears in my eyes reading Chavez's own comments on moments when he thought all was lost, yet emerged triumphant with the majority of Venezuelans at his side. Some may blanch at Jones's derisory comments about the role of Venezuelan elites in all this. I applaud him wholeheartedly for showing just how callow, narcissistic, and anti-democratic are most of the forces ranged against this most complex and fascinating of Latin American leaders.
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29 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
¡Hugo!: The Definitive Chavez Biography
Review by Chuck Kaufman

[¡Hugo!: The Hugo Chavez Story From Mud Hut to Perpetual Revolution, by Bart Jones Hardback, 570pgs, Steerforth Press, Sept. 2007, $30]

I am not a reader of biographies and I am not a fan of learning history by studying the lives of "great men." Having said that, I believe that ¡Hugo!: The Hugo Chavez Story From Mud Hut to Perpetual Revolution by Bart Jones is one of the most important books of 2007 and a must read for anyone who wants a fair and balanced account of the great changes sweeping Venezuela and the historical roots that shaped the man, Hugo Chavez, and the Bolivarian process that is transforming the country.

Liberals and progressives in the United States have been influenced by the relentless Bush administration and corporate media campaign to depict Chavez as an autocrat who is a threat to democracy, press freedom, and human rights norms. Newsday reporter and author of ¡Hugo!, Bart Jones, has contributed a fast-paced, thoroughly researched and balanced book that allows the reader to make her own judgments.

Jones lived eight years in Venezuela arriving in 1992 just as Chavez and mid-level military officers were launching a failed coup against Carlos Andres Perez which landed Chavez in prison for two years. Jones lived in a poverty stricken Caracas barrio as a Maryknoll lay worker for the first year and a half and then landed a job as Associated Press correspondent through 2000. In the barrio he lived across the street from a mud hut just like the one where Chavez was born in his grandmother's hut. As an AP reporter Jones lived in the exclusive Altamira neighborhood, a bastion of the rich opposition to Chavez.
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24 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Omer Belsky on March 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is a strange icon for a democratic left to admire; He is a former soldier who has led a military coup against his country's democratically elected government, who only acknowledged the legitimacy of Venezuela's democracy once he reckoned he had a good chance of winning. He is a consummate player of hypocritical realist foreign policy that would make Henry Kissinger proud - associate yourself with the very worse of the world's leaders (Saddam Hussein, Mahmud Ahmadinejad), and than still claim the moral high ground over your enemies. He has debased the language of international relations, and his internal policies are at the very least controversial.

But Bart Jones, author of ¡Hugo!: The Hugo Chavez Story from Mud Hut to Perpetual Revolution, is a Chavez apologist, although it would be unfair to call him a Chavista (the term for Chavez's supporters). He employs numerous strategies to put Chavez in a sympathetic light. The chapter about the 2002 coup attempt against his government is titled simply "The Coup", but Chavez's own coup attempt was "The Rebellion of the Angels", Both Chavez and his opponents routinely demonize each other, and Chavez gave as good as he got, but that did not stop him from complaining about his "vilification" and Jones echoes these complaints.

The most potent weapon in Jones's armory, though, is George W. Bush. The readership of "Hugo" is likely fiercely opposed to the 43rd American President, and Jones takes advantage of the fact, positioning Chavez as a victim and an opponent of Bush, who should get the reader's sympathies by default.
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