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Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent Paperback – January 1, 1997

3.9 out of 5 stars 262 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A dazzling barrage of words and ideas.-History

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

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

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Spanish
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 317 pages
  • Publisher: Monthly Review Press; 25 Anv edition (1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0853459916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0853459910
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (262 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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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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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14 Comments 161 of 188 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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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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Format: Paperback
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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