Redeemers: Ideas and Power in Latin America

Enrique Krauze, Author
Enrique Krauze. Harper, $29.99 (560p) ISBN 978-0-06-621473-3
Reviewed on: 06/06/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
Paperback - 538 pages - 978-0-06-093844-4
Hardcover - 583 pages - 978-84-9992-123-5
Open Ebook - 592 pages - 978-0-307-83278-8
Ebook - 560 pages - 978-0-06-230929-7
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Latin America often seems to be a place of wildly contrasting political ideals, pitting colonialism against national liberation, populist reformers against conservative oligarchies, and socialism against capitalism. In his latest book, Krauze (Mexico: A Biography of Power) attempts to weave together the disparate threads of all the feuding orthodoxies through mini-biographies of 12 leaders and thinkers: 11 men and one woman (Eva Perón) . Krauze, perhaps Mexico's most widely respected intellectual, is uniquely suited to the task, and the resulting tapestry is both persuasive and evocative. A few of the 12 are of questionable lasting value—the choice of Hugo Chávez, whom Krauze presents as "not a man of ideas but neither is he a man without ideas," will likely not withstand the test of time, and Subcomandante Marcos perhaps seems more influential in Mexico than in the region as a whole. Krauze's work also suffers from the lack of any connective tissue linking one portrait to the next, but it is not difficult to see the contradictory trajectories and gyrations of Latin America on the whole in the lives of each individual. Krauze's portrayal of Octavio Paz as "the great heretic... a status that deeply offended him and maintained him in a state of exaltation and constant readiness for combat" could just as easily describe Latin America itself, as the author demonstrates in examining the ideas of these 12 figures. 12 b&w photos. (Aug.)
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