Liberators: Latin America's Struggle for Independence 1810-1830

Robert Harvey, Author Overlook Press $40 (561p) ISBN 978-1-58567-072-7
With the verve of an engaging storyteller and the intrepidness of a journalist, Harvey (Portugal; Fire Down Below; etc.) presents an ambitious account of the seven men who swiftly and defiantly liberated Latin America from centuries of Iberian rule: Francisco de Miranda, Sim n Bol var, Jos de San Mart n, Bernardo O'Higgins, Lord Thomas Cochrane, Augustin de It rbide and Pedro de Braganza. Harvey vividly peppers his retelling of the glorious and bloody battles fought in the name of freedom with intriguing anecdotes and details--from descriptions of brilliant military strategy, illicit love affairs, intrigue, betrayal and murder to idealism, intelligence and amazing bravery. In his zeal for his protagonists, Harvey sometimes defies objectivity and wanders into sensationalist territory, but this remains primarily a grounded and serious study. Harvey's ability, moreover, to place the Latin American-Iberian struggle within the context of worldwide events (Napoleon's battles in Europe, the North American colonies' revolt against British rule) is admirable. In the final chapter (""The Legacy""), Harvey compares the postliberation progress of the U.S. with that of Latin America and foreshadows the political tyranny, instability and socioeconomic stagnation afflicting the latter in modern times. Although he remains optimistic about the potential of Latin America, his quick and simplistic leap from the late 19th century to the 21st leaves the legacy incomplete. This is an important work on a neglected historical subject. It was widely praised in England and will be here as well, and the Latino market, especially in southern California and Florida, is huge, so the book should generate solid demand. Maps and illus. Agent, John Murray. Regional author tour. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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