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Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent Paperback – January 1, 1997

4.0 out of 5 stars 278 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A dazzling barrage of words and ideas.-History

Well written and passionately stated, this is an intellectually honest and valuable study.-Library Journal

A superbly written, excellently translated, and powerfully persuasive exposé which all students of Latin American and U.S. history must read.-Choice

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Spanish
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 317 pages
  • Publisher: Monthly Review Press; 25 Anv edition (1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0853459916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0853459910
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (278 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like many, I bought this book because Hugo Chavez recommended it to President Obama. It was my birthday, so I also bought several other books by Galeano. I am still reading my way thru them. As I read this book, I also read Walking Words [Folk Tales] and Days and Nights of Love and War [a Memoir].

It is difficult to assess this book and ignore current politics. I would suggest people read '1491' [A Pre-Columbian History of the Americas] This would provide some perspective as to the reality Galeano describes. If your only knowledge of American History is what you learned in High School and a survey course your Freshman year of college, this book may seem to be sheer propaganda.

If you are a Republican, or a chauvinistic nationalist, you will hate this book. Eduardo Galeano writes from the perspective of an exile who was forced out of Uruguay by a US supported Right-Wing Military Dictatorship in the 1960s, and then forced to leave Argentina when the Generals took power in the early 1970s.

The history of the Americas after 1492 is a history of Colonialism, Slavery, and the destruction of the people's culture. Even an ardent apologist for the status quo would find it difficult to deny that. You may believe the population is better off than they would have been without these gifts of European domination, but that is merely opinion. There is no way to know at this point.

One reviewer said that he believed this history was too biased toward Socialism, and that 'no one would leave a Capitalist county to go to Russia or Cuba'. That review was written only 2 months ago, long after Russia ceased to be a 'Socialist' country. As for Cuba, we are talking apples and oranges. Who knows how appealing that country might be, if even visiting were not illegal.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kudos to Hugo Chavez for putting this book in the eye of the emerging consciousness of the US public--Obama will not read this book because he already knows the story, he is the front end of the Borg--the system, and so similar in policies to Bush as to possibly wake up the naive.

The book begins with one of the finest Forewords I have ever read, by Isabel Allende, and I offer just one quote from her spectacular introduction of the book:

"His work is a mixture of meticulous detail, political conviction, poetic flair, and good storytelling."

The translation by Cedric Belfrage merits special note. This book sings in English, and the translator has done justice to the original.

A major recurring theme throughout the book is that of capital squandered by the few while the many actually producing the capital dies of hunger or disease.

I list ten other recommended books at the end of this review. Early on the author makes these points:

1. The indigenous bourgeoisie are the ones who have sold out their countries to the multinational corporations. Toward the end of the book re repeats this with a chapter on the guards that opened the gates.

2. "The human murder by poverty in Latin America is secret--every year, [the equivalent of] three Hiroshima bombs."

3. Quoting Lyndon Johnson: $5 invested in population control is equal to $100 in economic growth. This in the context of the author making the case that Latin America is under-populated in relation to Europe.

4. Imperialism and what I call predatory capitalism depends on, imposed, inequality and growing disparity on the countries rich in raw materials.
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Format: Paperback
Sometimes it is vitally important to read "the other side" of history... and hear the voices of people telling their own story, being interpreters of their own experience. Galeano, both a historian and journalist, writes a masterful history of Latin America - giving voice to Latin American peoples. Much like Howard Zinn's work in A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present (P.S.), Galeano tells the neglected story. He provides a well-researched history, but his gifts as a journalist shine as he knows how to tell a story that engages the reader... instead of overwhelming the reader with dates and data.

Many people (who never read this book) have discarded the validity of this book because Hugo Chavez gave it to Barack Obama... but I hope Pres. Obama has read it. The U.S. and western Europe have to confront centuries of oppression, exploitation, and injustice in Latin America. We can choose to live in ignorance... or begin to hear stories from our brothers and sisters in Latin America and work for a better, more just, future. Reading Galeano's excellent book is a good place to start the process toward justice.

I read this book while on a trip to southern CA and Mexico. Numerous conversations were initiated as people noticed my book, especially in Mexico. These conversations only added to my learning experience.

I highly recommend this book for students of history and those who want to have their eyes opened so that they might work for a better future. In my opinion, every single person from the West working, serving, vacationing, or studying in Latin America should read this book.
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