Sunday, April 19, 2009

Open Veins of Latin America

The book that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave Obama this past week is "Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent" by Eduardo Galeano. This is a classic leftist text on the colonialization of Latin America. In a recent Facebook quiz, I listed Galeano's popular history trilogy "Memory of Fire" as my absolute favorite nonfiction book. Reading Galeano in my early twenties convinced me that there was a legitimate reason why Marxism could be such a powerful force for analysis and an inspiration for change. (I read Galeano not long after Reagan was working to bring down the Sandinistas and funding the Contra forces in El Salvador.) I later studied Marxism in college, but in many ways Galeano's histories still make the most sense. Whatever one thinks of Chavez, his gesture is a powerful (and admirable) recognition of the power of books.

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