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Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent [Hardcover]

by Eduardo Galeano
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (192 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 1, 1997 0853459908 978-0853459903 Anniversary

Since its U.S. debut a quarter-century ago, this brilliant text has set a new standard for historical scholarship of Latin America. It is also an outstanding political economy, a social and cultural narrative of the highest quality, and perhaps the finest description of primitive capital accumulation since Marx.

Rather than chronology, geography, or political successions, Eduardo Galeano has organized the various facets of Latin American history according to the patterns of five centuries of exploitation. Thus he is concerned with gold and silver, cacao and cotton, rubber and coffee, fruit, hides and wool, petroleum, iron, nickel, manganese, copper, aluminum ore, nitrates, and tin. These are the veins which he traces through the body of the entire continent, up to the Rio Grande and throughout the Caribbean, and all the way to their open ends where they empty into the coffers of wealth in the United States and Europe.

Weaving fact and imagery into a rich tapestry, Galeano fuses scientific analysis with the passions of a plundered and suffering people. An immense gathering of materials is framed with a vigorous style that never falters in its command of themes. All readers interested in great historical, economic, political, and social writing will find a singular analytical achievement, and an overwhelming narrative that makes history speak, unforgettably.

This classic is now further honored by Isabel Allende's inspiring introduction. Universally recognized as one of the most important writers of our time, Allende once again contributes her talents to literature, to political principles, and to enlightenment.

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Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent + Las venas abiertas de America Latina (Spanish Edition)
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Editorial Reviews


A superbly written, excellently translated, and powerfully persuasive exposé which all students of Latin American and U.S. history must read.-Choice,

Well written and passionately stated, this is an intellectually honest and valuable study.-Library Journal,

A dazzling barrage of words and ideas.-History,

Language Notes

Text: English, Spanish (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Monthly Review Press; Anniversary edition (January 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0853459908
  • ISBN-13: 978-0853459903
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (192 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #731,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
71 of 80 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Like many, I bought this book because Hugo Chavez recommended it to President Obama. It was my birthday, so I also bought several other books by Galeano. I am still reading my way thru them. As I read this book, I also read Walking Words [Folk Tales] and Days and Nights of Love and War [a Memoir].

It is difficult to assess this book and ignore current politics. I would suggest people read '1491' [A Pre-Columbian History of the Americas] This would provide some perspective as to the reality Galeano describes. If your only knowledge of American History is what you learned in High School and a survey course your Freshman year of college, this book may seem to be sheer propaganda.

If you are a Republican, or a chauvinistic nationalist, you will hate this book. Eduardo Galeano writes from the perspective of an exile who was forced out of Uruguay by a US supported Right-Wing Military Dictatorship in the 1960s, and then forced to leave Argentina when the Generals took power in the early 1970s.

The history of the Americas after 1492 is a history of Colonialism, Slavery, and the destruction of the people's culture. Even an ardent apologist for the status quo would find it difficult to deny that. You may believe the population is better off than they would have been without these gifts of European domination, but that is merely opinion. There is no way to know at this point.

One reviewer said that he believed this history was too biased toward Socialism, and that 'no one would leave a Capitalist county to go to Russia or Cuba'. That review was written only 2 months ago, long after Russia ceased to be a 'Socialist' country. As for Cuba, we are talking apples and oranges. Who knows how appealing that country might be, if even visiting were not illegal.
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136 of 163 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Kudos to Hugo Chavez for putting this book in the eye of the emerging consciousness of the US public--Obama will not read this book because he already knows the story, he is the front end of the Borg--the system, and so similar in policies to Bush as to possibly wake up the naive.

The book begins with one of the finest Forewords I have ever read, by Isabel Allende, and I offer just one quote from her spectacular introduction of the book:

"His work is a mixture of meticulous detail, political conviction, poetic flair, and good storytelling."

The translation by Cedric Belfrage merits special note. This book sings in English, and the translator has done justice to the original.

A major recurring theme throughout the book is that of capital squandered by the few while the many actually producing the capital dies of hunger or disease.

I list ten other recommended books at the end of this review. Early on the author makes these points:

1. The indigenous bourgeoisie are the ones who have sold out their countries to the multinational corporations. Toward the end of the book re repeats this with a chapter on the guards that opened the gates.

2. "The human murder by poverty in Latin America is secret--every year, [the equivalent of] three Hiroshima bombs."

3. Quoting Lyndon Johnson: $5 invested in population control is equal to $100 in economic growth. This in the context of the author making the case that Latin America is under-populated in relation to Europe.

4. Imperialism and what I call predatory capitalism depends on, imposed, inequality and growing disparity on the countries rich in raw materials.
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50 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's a Reason YOU Won't Like this Book January 26, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good art, fine art, hits a nerve. This book will rip out your nervous system....

Those who profit from imperialism will hate it. Those who pay the price will identify with it and like it.

Now look at the rating chart---no middle ground. That should tell you how good this book is.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pattern of Submission June 22, 2009
For many who have not read the book, there appears to be blind indignation over Galeano's assertions. Clearly,such a powerful writer does not have time to indulge himself politically - his is a vivid historical account of destruction in Latin America. Many of the "invisible" souls that have perished by way of colonial power are the point of his indictment concerning American and European hegemony. Contextually speaking, much fits with the pattern of containment and control practiced in America and Europe. A sample of American history concerning indeginous peoples of the last four hundered years make a strong case for the criticism. If the historic pattern is evidenced over and over thoughout American and European history, one could conclude that it has been a consistent means to an end - dominance over others. Galeano's economic history of Latin American is evidenced in countless documents, articles, and primary sources. If you want to counter the book, read the evidence and then make your conclusions. Sadly, most do not want to take this writer head on. One of his personal concerns are the "invisibles" who passed through this continent's history without any mention of the horror they were put through. I will never look upon European and American achievement without thinking about the blood, sweat, and tears of people who paid the ultimate price for western arrogance and cultural superiority. This book may cut too close to home. However, if you think your standard of living did not come with a price tag, ask the people of Latin America.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for anyone who wants to understand Latin America
Why did I choose this book? Back in 2008 I made my maiden voyage outside of the US and visited Buenos Aires for a week and a half, and I was stunned by what I saw. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Anthony D Mendheim
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic book, must be readed
An important point of view, and the truth behind the historical facts. Must be readed for everyone who wants to understand America and its heritage.
Published 9 days ago by Luis Schneider
5.0 out of 5 stars Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano
In Uruguay, the country where Eduardo Galeria stems from, this book cannot published. It reveals five centuries of the pillage of a continent, translated by Cedric Belfrage, with a... Read more
Published 23 days ago by Carol Rae Bradford
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books on Latin America
Every North American needs to read his book! The credit for colonial destruction is given to political empires that deserve credit and it is a lot better book that I had in... Read more
Published 1 month ago by john copeland
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius
Eduardo Galeano has a magical way of writing where you simply do not want to put down the book! No one narrates history like he does, bringing it to life and making it crystal... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
Galeano's style is easy to read, nicely explained and neat arguments.
He describes an explicit LatAm, with its scars, sweat and yet poetical view, which may help one... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Luiza Barros
5.0 out of 5 stars Good history
Especially to people who do not know where the abundant, never ending goods are coming from, all they know this is the land of the plenty, and it is because we go and take it from... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Carlos Rodriguez
5.0 out of 5 stars A "must read" for every American
This is a "must read" for every American !
I purchased it soon as I heard that the former President
of Venezuela had given it to President Obama.
Published 4 months ago by Deanna R. Von Bargen
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating
The prologue by Isabel allende alone makes this book outstanding. Eduardo Galeano has an almost unsurpassed ability to entice the reader through the history of the exploitation of... Read more
Published 4 months ago by gretasatterwhite
5.0 out of 5 stars About industrial imperialism in Latin America
A seminal book. Arrived in good shape and on time. I haven't read it yet, actually, but my friend says it's tremendously important.
Published 5 months ago by Christopher Logan
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Topic From this Discussion
hate filled socialist youth smoke too much pot
WOW!, Please someone take Marshill away from society before is too late, he is a strong candidate to grab his "shiny" M16 and kill a bunch of students in a colege!
Apr 21, 2009 by cpani |  See all 5 posts
Are there any reviews by historians outside of Latin American Studies?
Spain and Portugal had something to do with it up until 200 years ago.
Apr 20, 2009 by Stefan Patejak |  See all 18 posts
"Chávez, Extending Control, Seizes Assets of Oil Contractors "
No, it's called keeping a country's natural resources for that country's people. The US got kicked out of the Middle East, and now it's getting kicked out of Venezuela. That's what you get for exploiting the hell out of people. They resent it, and once they have the power they get back at you.
May 9, 2009 by GW Alumna |  See all 3 posts
From 54295 to #2 on the Amazon Best-Seller List
So which book is #1 on Amazon, and why?
Apr 21, 2009 by K. Mattson |  See all 4 posts
Reason for popularity
Certainly the fact that Chavez gave it the the US president may have increased the book's visibility to some North American readers but it might be useful to read the book before we can determine reasons for its popularity. I imagine that there ought to be some reason why Chavez chose this... Read more
Apr 20, 2009 by Delano N. Brown |  See all 18 posts
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