Hugo Chavez: Oil, Politics, and the Challenge to the U.S.
Hugo Chavez has put Latin America back on the U.S. radar with his outspoken attacks on American imperialism and his leadership in forming economic ties among Latin American nations outside U.S. influence. To many in the southern hemisphere, he represents a welcome alternative to the U.S., whose efforts to heal the region's economic woes through the World Bank and the IMF have largely failed. In the northern hemisphere, he is often seen as a threat to free-trade agreements and democracy in the Americas. Kozloff, a senior research fellow for the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, tries to neutralize the latter image as he recounts recent Venezuelan history and analyzes Chavez's rise to power. Paying equal attention to Chavez as a man and as a political phenomenon, he inserts slow-moving anecdotes among dense historical details, making for an uneven read. Kozloff's use of sources like the Nation , the New Left Review and the International Socialist Review , as well as his participation in the antiglobalization movement, also reveal a leftist bias toward Chavez. He offers little criticism of Chavez's policies or the nondemocratic means—a 1992 failed coup—through which he first garnered public favor, before winning office in a 1999 election and 2002 reelection. But while this bias might make for some one-sided storytelling at times, it also makes for a thoughtful, well-researched alternative to the majority of information available on Chavez in the English-speaking world. (Sept. 19)