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The Making of Modern Colombia: A Nation in Spite of Itself Paperback – February 9, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0520082892 ISBN-10: 0520082893

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (February 9, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520082893
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520082892
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #622,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"I simply cannot think of an example of recent scholarship on Latin America that I found as thoroughly rewarding and enjoyable as this study."—Charles Bergquist, University of Washington

From the Back Cover

"I simply cannot think of an example of recent scholarship on Latin America that I found as thoroughly rewarding and enjoyable as this study." (Charles Bergquist, University of Washington)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
Americans have a very biased view of this country, with its long history of democracy and excellent education system as well as its drug lords and endemic violence. Part of this problem stems from the lack of accurate information about Colombia. This book is the only one I could find in English that gives an accurate overview of the history and to a lesser degree culture of the country. While academic in its approach, it is still accessible to the lay reader, and anyone interested in learning more about Colombia should make sure to read it cover-to-cover.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Antonio on April 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is the best English language history of Colombia available. It follows the history of the country, from its disjointed past to its integrated yet violent present. Bushnell joins traditional "great man" history with current "socieconomic" and "cultural" history. He expresses unqualified admiration for Carlos Lleras Restrepo, and has good things to say about Rafael Nunez, Rafael Reyes, Alfonso Lopez Pumarejo, Cesar Gaviria, Gustavo Rojas Piniblla, Francisco de Paula Santander and even Laureano Gomez. He acknowledges the country's ancestral commitment to economic stability and political moderation (which it traces, among other reasons, to the influence of coffee culture and of the country's traditional poverty), its historic yet slowly eroding loyalty to the Catholic religion and its cultural distinctiveness.
He also provides data to explode the myth that the country is run by a land-owning, violent oligarchy, or that Colombian GDP is mainly drug related, or that the country has historically been more violent than its neighors.
He doesn't make the mistake of allowing his own prejudices to determine what he choses to highlight, while at the same time refraining from moral relativism. He acknowledges both good and bad in all main characters and groups in the country's history, and remains mostly optimistic about its future.
The bibliographic section is priceless, even for Colombians. If you'd like to go beyond generalities and pious nonsense about Colombia, read this book and then, if still interested, round it up with Henderson's "When Colombia Bled" and Safford and Palacios' "Colombia. Fragmented Land, Divided Society". A great list of books on Colombia is available in Amazon.com: just look at Bert Ruiz's "My Favorite Books on Colombia" for more, apposite material.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
The conflict in Colombia isn t easily explained, or studied however this book may provide a first glance on Colombia, and mainly the why's of the present conflict. It invites to some reflection, which always turns out to be incredibly useful.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bert Ruiz on September 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
Anyone attempting to decipher the complexities of the Colombian crisis must start with this text. It is comprehensive and objective.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Wilson on September 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well researched, but I would like have liked the characters to be personalized more and more attention to summary and highlighting of the various government changes in the beginning of the country rather than an analysis of every president who's terms only lasted two years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Teesh on May 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I knew little about Colombia's history and so after asking many questions of my accommodation host while I was staying in Bogota he suggested I read this book. I found it a very easy read, which gave me a full appreciation of the history of the politics of Colombia. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in gaining a good appreciation of Colombia's political history from the time of settlement of the spaniards.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jose Escobar on January 16, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great to know the history of Colombia, David Bushnell has write an excellent review of political and historical facts from spanish conquers to Cesar Gaviria Government.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ben on July 25, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After having lived in Colombia for a year, I thought I would take it upon myself to learn a little more about this country. The Making of Modern Colombia by David Bushnell was a good place to start. It provides a good summary of the history of the country starting from original indigenous people who lived there up until the early 90's (the book was published in 93). It was a straight history book, so there wasn't much color commentary, but overall I was able to get into the book and remain interested. The writing was good enough that it wasn't boring. Also, it was 280 pages which is a decent length for an overview of a history. Not too long, that you are bogged down and give up and not to short that you miss important events. Overall, good starting point and I would recommend it.

That being said, as I am sure most history books are like this, it focused a lot on the macro level when it comes to Economics, Politics, Demographics, etc. so with this approach you need to be aware that beneath all of these numbers are stories from people lives, for good and for bad. After reading this book, I would like to read a few more books that get below the surface of these large issues like la violencia or the different guerrilla groups (before this I had only thought of FARC and not the ELN or the M-19), as well as the stories of the workers who's lives were influenced for better or for worse by the movements of industries and the engineering of the country.
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