- Hardcover: 496 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Press; 1 edition (November 5, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1608198960
- ISBN-13: 978-1608198962
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 40.6 x 239.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,253,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Story of a Death Foretold: The Coup Against Salvador Allende, September 11, 1973 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
In this densely packed history, Latin American expert Guardiola-Rivera (What If Latin America Ruled the World?) provides an exhaustive study of the career of Salvador Allende, one-time president of Chile and the world's first and only democratically elected Marxist. In placing Allende's tenure as president and his eventual deposing by military coup into context, Guardiola-Rivera casts a wide net, exploring a myriad of factors that led to his election, including the revolutionary spirit personified by Che Guevara, and the inevitable involvement of the U.S. through the CIA and Henry Kissinger, among others. But this is more than a story about Allende; it is a far-ranging, passionate look at a suddenly-important part of the world during a period of political turbulence, another battlefield in the Cold War and a front in an ideological clash between democracy and socialism. The author argues that, for all of Allende's flaws and mistakes, his brief but vital reign as president was far superior to what replaced it. Guardiola-Rivera writes with authority, but his convoluted, circuitous style—scholarly with a hint of poetic—might appeal more to academics than general readers. Nonetheless, Guardiola-Rivera has produced one of the most comprehensive books on 20th-century Latin American politics. Agent: Sophie Lambert, Conville & Walsh Literary Agency. (Nov.)
One of the saddest and most morally ambiguous episodes of the Cold War was the U.S.-supported military coup against Salvador Allende, the democratically elected Marxist president of Chile. The coup, which was supported by large segments of the population, ended Allende’s disastrous economic policies and, aided by Chicago School economic advisors, eventually revitalized the economy. But the price paid in political freedom was heavy, including massive repression and the murdering of thousands of regime opponents. Guardiola-Rivera, who teaches at the University of London, has a leftist perspective, and he convincingly describes Allende as a decent man attempting to usher in a benign form of democratic socialism. He was also naive and incapable of managing the forces, both on the Left and the Right, that he unleashed. At times, Guardiola-Rivera strives for objectivity, but he also spouts too many outdated clichés, such as the plunder of natural resources or the inherent creativity of the masses. Still, he has an important story to tell, and, allowing for his political bias, he tells it well. --Jay Freeman
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Too often the U.S. has backed neo-fascist dictators who guarantee unfettered access to extraction of resources to corporations, especially our own and multinational at the expense of democraticly elected governments and their people. This stance comes out of the hubris of American exceptionalism and a belief, in spite of the enormous inequality and abject poverty within our own borders, that our form of 'capitalism' and governance are the only viable forms of economic and political systems and it is our right to impose our systems on any country that we feel is below us in stature.
There are also lessons here about how powers use propaganda against anyone we deem not acting in our national interest, as though they have no right to their own sovereign self interest. Perhaps by looking at internally and externally applied propaganda, we may learn how to recognise and question it's veracity. As it applies to agendas within our own borders and in countries where we exercise influence.
If a sobering nation chooses democratically to set up an economic system we do not believe in, we should let it stand or fail on its own merits. If our system were the only and best economic system, then it would be self evident, we would not have to covertly try to destroy other systems, if we truly believed in our own systems.
It is tragic that our government assisted, trained and plotted the overthrow of an elected government, but in that era, it was not the only democratically elected government that we covertly worked to overthrow. Then we backed and supported a military dictatorship that terrorized and slaughtered its own citizens for the crime of dissent.
It is sad that in particular two constitutional Generals, Rene Schnider and Carlos Prats who placed their loyalty to uphold their county's constitution were assassinated and their President's death, and the deaths and disappearances of 40,000+ additional citizens were destroyed in the service of corporate profits.
An important text to read today as we seem to be caught up in complicated international entanglements.
I have read many books dealing with this unhappy period in Chilean history, books written from a rightwing perspective and those written by leftists, books written by former participants in Allende's government, and books dealing with the brutal suppression of human rights, torture etc., of the Pinochet government. Perhaps my memory fails me, but this one was the most difficult to finish, not because of a sophisticated or complicated argument, but because I genuinely felt I was wasting my time, that I was reading an ideological screed rather than a work of serious scholarship. As I mentioned above, one learns nothing new here; no original research is displayed.
I would advise anyone with a serious interest in the topic to give this book a miss. There are many many books, in Spanish and in English, that will better reward a serious reader's time.