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Utopia Unarmed: The Latin American Left After the Cold War Paperback – August 2, 1994


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Utopia Unarmed: The Latin American Left After the Cold War + Proclaiming Revolution: Bolivia in Comparative Perspective (David Rockefeller Center Series on Latin American Studies, Harvard University, 10) + Engendering Democracy in Brazil
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Vintage Books ed edition (August 2, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679751416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679751410
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,063,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An examination of the Latin American left's ideals of a socialist utopia in light of Western capitalism.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Political scientist Castaneda (Autonomous Univ. of Mexico) provides a sympathetic but academically balanced analysis of the Latin American Left over the past 30 years as well as an agenda for that Left to follow in the decades ahead. While he holds that the Left has been "the most important factor in the continent's political evolution," he also shows that the peoples of Latin America are not much better off after three decades. For the Left to pose a viable and substantively different alternative to the status quo, Castaneda posits a program that would achieve a combination of economic growth wih social equity. However, this program rests upon "The Grand Bargain" under which the United States remains neutral to nations' choices of economic and social programs and governments and business groups acknowledge "social compensation for the ravages of the market." This outstanding book belongs in all academic libraries and in public libraries with serious readers about world affairs.
- James Rhodes, Luther Coll., Decorah, Ia.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 3, 1997
Format: Paperback
This book was originaly written in 1992. An introduction added to account for important developments in 1994 that seem to contradict the main thesis.

The book itself has 2 parts arifitially glued together. The first chapters present an excellent historiography of the last 60 years of left movements in Latin America. Parallels, connections and similarities are drawn between different groups in different times and places. All this is very informative, given the numerous references for further reading. One of the main arguments is that armed movements did not succeed in changing the politics of the region (except for a very small number of cases), that the transition to social-democracy activism is much more effective and that all of the democratically elected leftist governments failed to implement workable alternatives.

The events in southern Mexico during January 94 contradict the general trend, hence the need for the new introduction.

The last part of the book is programatic. Castaneda presents _the_ solution to the problems that plague the continent in the form of "recommendations" for the left (since the right will never do that). The program includes democratization, socially oriented government policies, regulated free-market, etc. As a whole the program is well presented and congruent. However, the apparent intent is to show how these policies are the only alternative based on the experience drawn from the first part of the book.

On the last point I find the book lacking. The connection between the different historic cases and trens and the program for the future is not clear enough. Also, some internal contradictions are pointed out but not resolved (as to how the left will be elected with a corrupt polling process, etc)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Green on April 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
The best part of this book for me was the detailed analysis of the relationship between the Cuban Revolution and the rest of Latin America. The author is particularly good at explaining the differences in Cuban support to the various guerilla movements in the region during the 1970s and 1980s. The discussion of intellectuals in Latin America, especially their role in bridging the gap between the state and civil society, is also quite lucid.

The suggestions for where the left should head now seem dated, given that the book was written more than a decade ago, but that does not diminish the overall quality of this author's scholarship. Simply stated, it is still one of the best histories of the Latin American left.
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6 of 21 people found the following review helpful By O. M. Suarez on September 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
Or should I say poor Mr. Secretary! I read this book right after it was published as someone gave it to me as a gift. The book itself represents a turning point in Castañeda's life: from a progressive Mexican academician to a disenchanted US visiting professor. It is as if the ignominious Berlin Wall fell upon his head. The book transpires the "I was so wrong!" message from the beginning. However, I must admit that on the first part there is a lot of useful raw material that can help us understand the failure of armed movements in Latin America. Particularly accurate is the piece on Montoneros, the Argentine urban guerrilleros. However, it is Castañeda's analysis what is wrong. Then his proposal for the "left" (the "left" HE has in his own confused mind) proved wrong just some months after the publication of the book with the coming of the Zapatistas onto Mexican political arena. No wonder Catañeda's posterior attempts to discredit the movement: these irreverent Zapatistas were not following HIS proposal based on well-thought academic premises, conceived in a clean professor's office away from (social) reality. His current appointment as the Secretary of Foreign Relations in a right wing administration demonstrates clearly Castañeda's solid convictions that he had already gave off in this book.
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