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Cowboy in Caracas: A North American's Memoir of Venezuela's Democratic Revolution Paperback – April 1, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Like Chavez, the author has given a platform to the people's hopes and dreams." -- Morning Star, Great Britain


"This book is a must read for all Americans--but a must read that you won't be able to put down." -- Dave Lindorff, columnist for Counterpunch and co-author, with Barbara Olshansky, of The Case for Impeachment



"This book is an antidote to the poisonous US government mantra against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez." -- Saul Landau, author of A Bush & Botox World

About the Author

Charles Hardy has been writing and speaking about the political and social reality of Latin America for over forty years. He has visited almost every Central and South American country.

James Russell is the author of five books, including After the Fifth Sun: Class and Race in North America (Prentice Hall). Currently, he teaches sociology and directs the Latin American Studies Program at Eastern Connecticut State University.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 145 pages
  • Publisher: Curbstone Books; 1st edition (April 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931896372
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931896375
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,025,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By April E. Mahoney on August 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
Charles Hardy's memoir COWBOY IN CARACAS: A NORTH AMERICAN'S MEMOIR OF VENEZUELA'S DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION (Curbstone Press, ISBN: 978-1-931896-37-5, $15.00) gives a much-needed voice to the impoverished living in Venezuela. Condemned by big business and the American government, democratically elected Hugo Chávez became a representative of the underrepresented. Hardy gives a detailed firsthand account of life in Venezuela before and after the Bolivarian Revolution.
Hardy sets the stage, describing the chaos and corruption wrought by the Venezuelan government prior to the election of Chávez. Leaving no stone unturned, Hardy addresses the events following the election, including the many unjustified and unsuccessful attempts to remove Chávez from office. Exposing the manipulative methods of the opposition, Hardy gives the reader a glimpse of why the rich hated Chávez, but also why the Venezuelan poor adored him.
This is a very important book told from an all too often neglected perspective. Hardy watches barrio dwellers leave pressed cardboard shacks that lacked indoor plumbing (the type of home he lived in for much of his stay in Venezuela) and move into much more suitable apartment-style housing. Changes like these could have only occurred during the administration of Chávez. The reader is brought into the lives of these impoverished people (it is estimated that eighty percent of Venezuelans are living in poverty), and is able to see how necessary it is for them to be represented by a president who is willing to look out for their best interests. The message of Hardy's book can best be expressed through a statement he makes on page 19, "It is often simply difficult to understand what one has never experienced. And yet, if we truly want a better world for everyone, we've got to try." This book is essential to knowing what is truly going on in Venezuela beyond what the news media wants the world to believe.
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Great for understanding The Chavez revolution in Venezuela. Anyone visiting or wanting to understand Venezuela needs to read this. Written from a personal perspective with lots of anecdotes to back up the extensive research he's done in addition. Easy to read and follow too.
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I almost missed my stop on the Caracas metro because I was so engrossed in "Cowboy in Caracas". Charles Hardy worked as a priest for many years in one of Caracas's slums and knows its people well. If you want to understand Venezuela's democratic revolution ignore the bile in the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and read this book.
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When he was a Roman Catholic priest, Charles Hardy was sent to Caracas, Venezuela, to work with the poorest of the poor in 1985. While living among them for eight years in a cardboard shack without sanitary facilities, as well as in the years that have followed, he has witnessed the drama of social and political change under Hugo Chavez that has substantially improved their situation.

In his lucid and conversationally written book, "Cowboy in Caracas," Hardy recounts his often moving experiences while providing a perspective on Chavez's Bolivarian revolution that is far different from that which we in the United States get from our media - the perspective of the 80 percent of Venezuelans who are poor, not of the small but vocal minority who, as I see it, want to reclaim their traditional control of the country's wealth. (That minority runs the Venezuelan news media, which continually maligns Chavez and overtly participated in the failed US-backed coup against him in 2002, as well as a subsequent attempt to strangle the economy in order to force him out; in each case the people literally put their bodies on the line to support Chavez, thwarting those efforts.)

While keeping his focus on the Venezuelans he has met, Hardy vividly illustrates the reality of a country that, UNESCO says, in a year and a half wiped out illiteracy; has opened thousands of schools in rural areas; has created new universities which any Venezuelan can attend without tuition; has provided seed money to farmers and rural women who have started cottage industries; and has substantially expanded cost-free health services.

Don't get me wrong: Charles Hardy is no shill for the government, but he does think it has done many things that benefit the vast majority of Venezuelans. If you want an entertaining and humanistic account of what I see as a dynamic country that has little in common with the menace that Bush administration portrays, give "Cowboy in Caracas" a try.
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Cowboy in Caracas is an amazing story of a Catholic priest's out-of-this world (literally) transition to life in a foreign country, Venezuela. Long sought after for its beautiful landscapes and oil, Venezuela is truly an amazing country, with its gorgeous inhabitants and warm Caribbean lifestyle.

The story itself revolves around life in the many barrios of Caracas. If you have never seen Caracas before, the cover of the book itself shows the vast skyscrapers and penthouses of the rich, and on the mountainsides outside of the city lay the small cardboard shacks of los demás (everyone else, aka the poor people).

Hardy is an amazing writer, and for the common Venezuelan to read this book brings back memories of how beautiful the Venezuelan people really are. Hardy effortlessly tells the tale of his neighbors, diligent and courageous, dedicated and humble--these are the workers of Caracas.

This book should be a must read for everyone. Regardless of your political affiliation, your political views, your heritage, your first language, everyone should read this book solely for its glimpse into the lives and hearts of everyday Venezuelans. I read this book because I love the Venezuelan people, their open hearts and their inner and outer beauty. Some of the most inspiring people I have met have been Venezuelan, and they are truly the kindest peoples on the face of the Earth. For a Venezuelan-American, this book is a must read.

I would recommend this book for those who really have no interest in politics simply because of its pure writing and heartwarming stories of Venezuelan life. I read this book because I wanted to read about what an everyday American would do if he were sent to live in a country as beautiful as Venezuela, and I must say this is an excellent reading experience. A must read!
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