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Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America's Soul Hardcover – January 3, 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[A] comprehensive and erudite assessment of the region. . . . While the social and economic face of Latin America is becoming more attractive, political life remains ugly and, in some countries, is getting even uglier."—Moisés Naim, Washington Post
(Moisés Naim Washington Post 2008-03-23)

"No one who seriously aspires to discuss Latin American politics, economics and culture should go without reading Forgotten Continent."—Jorge Castaneda and Patricio Navia, National Interest
(Josge Castaneda and Patricio Navia National Interest 2008-08-01)

"Reid's account is essential reading for its clear portrayal of what can be called a post—'Washington consensus' view of Latin America."—Steven Volk, The Journal of American History
(Steven Volk The Journal of American History 2008-12-01)

"Reid's book offers something valuable to both specialists and the general reading public. . . . He writes of Latin America with great empathy, intelligence, and insight."—James Brennan, Hispanic American Historical Review
(James Brennan Hispanic American Historical Review 2009-12-01)

"[An] intelligent and thoughtful overview. . . . Reid offers a serious and well-written synthesis of Latin America's political economy that is meticulously supported by a wealth of data and the work of the best scholars studying the region."—Donald Share, The Americas
(Donald Share The Americas)

About the Author

Michael Reid is editor of the Americas section of the Economist. Previously based in Brazil, Mexico, and Peru, he has traveled throughout Latin America and reported for the BBC, the Guardian, and the Economist since 1982.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (January 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300116160
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300116168
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #710,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Omer Belsky on April 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michael Reid's task in "Forgotten Continent" is onerous: in one book - a large one, to be sure - he wants to summarize two hundred years of a continent's history, and to argue that Latin America is now ready for a major change: the embrace of Free Market Democracy in earnest for the first time.

The thesis of the book is simple: Latin America is torn between reformers - democrats who support free markets and democracy, and populists - who support neither. Reid argues that although the populists have considerable appeal in the region, the tide has turned against them. Unlike previous eras, the current embrace of democracy and capitalism - augmented with a great deal of redistribution policies - is here to last.

Surprisingly for a journalist, Reid's history of Latin American, in three large chapters which take us from the 1820s to the 1990s, is cumbersome and hard to read. It is only when he gets to economic history that Reid, a correspondent for The Economist, hits his stride; A chapter on the development of the Washington Consensus is fascinating; I've read general economic accounts of 1997-1998 crisis (e.g. Paul Krugman's The Return of Depression Economics) and a specific study of Argentina's woes (Paul Bluestein's
...Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
In "Forgotten Continent" Michael Reid offers a balanced, and in many ways refreshing, interpretation of modern Latin America. He eschews two common, competing views of the region, disagreeing with the leftist argument that Latin America has been a victim of "neoliberalism" and globalization, as well as the opposing thesis that Latin countries are doomed to dictatorship and poverty due to deeply rooted cultural impediments. Instead, Reid argues that Latin America has made tremendous strides--economically, politically, and socially--during the past quarter century. Despite his largely positive assessment, the author is under no illusion regarding the continued challenges facing the region. Its largest challenge comes from populism, best embodied by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, and the continuing temptation of economic policies that have proved disastrous in the past.

While the text is at times dry (especially in sections heavy on economics), overall it offers a fresh take on a part of the world that does not receive much attention among the popular press. After reading the book, I could not help but to share some of Reid's cautious optimism about the "forgotten continent." This book can be enjoyed both by Latinamericanists and curious newcomers alike.
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Format: Paperback
A strong neoliberal perspective; he sees the "battle" as between rational approaches to development and self-destructive, authoritarian-tending populism. Presents both sides but isn't very sympathetic to his opponents' POV. But it's a very clear, complexly schematic modern historical account of how the continent got to where it is and where it should go from here.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Book: I got the book and CDs to listen to in my car. The author, a long time resident of the region, research this subject well and present a good history of the economic and political development of Latin America since the early 1800's. The book stops at 2008 so it does not have the recent events with Hugo Chavez. It would be interesting to see the second edition. Overall, it is a good primer for persons with a new interest in the region.

CD: Well produced with an excellent bilingual reader.
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Format: Hardcover
An absolute pleasure to read! I learned a lot about the history of international economic policy and also about Latin American history. The two subjects turn out to be virtually inseparable!

Reid's entry into the currently lively debate about whether Marxism or globalist Capitalism offers the best path forward for Latin America comes down firmly on the side of Capitalism, hardly a surprise since the author is the Economist's writer-at-large for Latin America! What is surprising is the depth of the author's engagement with the region's history and culture. This book is fantastic for those who have an interest in understanding Latin America's economic and political history ... and how the region as a while might move forward into a more prosperous future. Though his work is technically a historical essay, it is quite engaging and is obviously the work of a writer who cares deeply about understanding the Latin American experience from every angle. Though the PhDs will quibble that the book is a journalistic popularization of the subject, I find it to be an excellent synthesis of a truly vast amount of material and an original (and well-written!) contribution to the literature.
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