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The Magical State: Nature, Money, and Modernity in Venezuela Paperback – November 10, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0226116020 ISBN-10: 0226116026 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 466 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (November 10, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226116026
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226116020
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #856,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tennican on January 3, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
an interesting insight into why oil rent cannot buy industrial development. In addition to historical overview, Coronil describes the simultaneously enabling and corrosive effect of oil rent via several focused examples such as the failure to establish a Venezuelan tractor industry. These examples are especially convincing because of the interview material used to round out the characters of the main actors.
On the other hand, the effort to connect the development difficulties of Venezeula with the general theory of rent capture is uninspired.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book goes far, very far, beyond the pedestrian and misleading analyses of Judith Ewell or John Lombardi. Coronil offers a history of Venezuela that reveals connections among state-formation, national mythology, natural resource exploitation, and class rule. A must read, therefore, not only for all Latin Americanists but also many others.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Eric Frith on April 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
In his introduction to The Magical State, Coronil writes: "As an oil nation, Venezuela was seen as having two bodies, a politcal body made up of its citizens and a natural body made up of its rich subsoil." Coronil's subject is how the state interacted with these two bodies. Abundant oil money, he argues, raised the ambitions of the state and the expectations of the people to an unrealistic extreme. Although excessive cashflow could not be spent efficiently in an underdeveloped country like Venezuela, pretending to do so was the government's sole claim to legitimacy; thus a charade of progress and benevolence pervaded the political culture of an export-driven, dependent economy.
Coronil's ideas are fascinating, and Part I alone (of four) makes this book worth reading. Unfortunately, Coronil does not bring his ideas home persuasively. Instead his book slowly degenerates into deconstructed historical anecdotes and glimpses of bitter subjectivity: reminders of his own experience with the government of Venezuela. Coronil's book casts an intriguing theoretical perspective on more conventional, more competent histories of Venezuela by scholars like Judith Ewell or John Lombardi. Read them first. The Magical State is for those who are comfortable with the historical framework and are ready to read critically--caveat lector.
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