My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is a powerful and important book. A thorough analysis of imperialism and colonialism in Latin America. He traces their history, not by region or chronology, but by the ways Latin America was bled dry by the Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, and, finally and currently, the USA.
Galeano traces the influence of the natural resources that Latin America was blessed with, only to find this blessing their greatest curse and the source of these 500 years of exploitation. Gold, silver, cacao, cotton, rubber, coffee, manganese, iron, nickel, oil, and so on. All the things that should have made Latin America rich and powerful are what led to its complete subjugation.
And exploitation is the best way to understand it, as none of the industry or cities that came and vanished were for the benefit of the indigenous people. Everything was taken, nothing given.
The style is commanding and simple, made to be understood by any and everyone, but mixing the political and economic with the imagery of the land. Doing more than simply explaining or listing atrocities, Galeano shows us the reality of the impoverished masses of Latin America, how they were never given a chance, and how every chance is continually ripped from them.
An essential read for anyone interested in Latin American history and especially for anyone curious about the current political atmosphere of Latin America, because much of it starts with this book. All the massive steps forward these countries are currently taking, stepping away from European and American influence, finding their own agency, much of it can be traced back to this book.
An important book and one I’d recommend to everyone, because it should be read. Even forty years later, it still carries its weight.