Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America’s Soul by Michael Reid

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Latin America has often been condemned to failure. Neither poor enough to evoke Africa’s moral crusade, nor as explosively booming as India and China, it has largely been overlooked by the West. Yet this vast continent, home to half a billion people, the world’s largest reserves of arable land, and 8.5 percent of global oil, is busily transforming its political and economic landscape. This book argues that rather than failing the test, Latin America’s efforts to build fairer and more prosperous societies make it one of the world’s most vigorous laboratories for capitalist democracy. In many countries, including Brazil, Chile and Mexico, democratic leaders are laying the foundations for faster economic growth and more inclusive politics, as well as tackling deep-rooted problems of poverty, inequality, and social injustice. They face a new challenge from Hugo Chavez’s oil-fueled populism, and much is at stake. Failure will increase the flow of drugs and illegal immigrants to the United States and Europe, jeopardize stability in a region rich in oil and other strategic commodities, and threaten some of the world’s most majestic natural environments. Drawing on Michael Reid’s many years of reporting from inside Latin America’s cities, presidential palaces, and shantytowns, the book provides a vivid, immediate, and informed account of a dynamic continent and its struggle to compete in a globalized world.

Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America’s Soul

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The Silence and the Scorpion: The Coup Against Chavez and the Making of Modern Venezuela by Brian A. Nelson

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On April 11, 2002, nearly a million Venezuelans marched on the presidential palace to demand the resignation of Hugo Chavez. The opposition represented a cross-section of society furious with Chavez’s economic policies, specifically his mishandling of Venezuelan oil. As the day progressed, the march turned violent, sparking a military revolt that led to the temporary ousting of Chavez. Over the ensuing turbulent seventy-two hours, Venezuelans would confront the deep divisions within their society and ultimately decide the best course for their country–and its oil–in the new century.
Drawing on unprecedented reporting, Nelson renders a mesmerizing account of the coup. An “Economist” Book of the Year, “The Silence and the Scorpion” provides rich insight into the complexities of modern Venezuela.

The Silence and the Scorpion: The Coup Against Chavez and the Making of Modern Venezuela

Brazilian Adventure: A Quest into the Heart of the Amazon by Peter Fleming

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In the summer of 1925 Colonel Fawcett – soldier, spy and legendary explorer – embarked on a journey into the dark and uncharted heart of Brazil in search of the lost ‘City of Z’. He was never seen again. Rumours abounded – that Fawcett had been killed by Indians or wild animals or that he had lost his memory and become chief of a cannibal tribe – and many became obsessed with discovering what had become of him. In 1932, when ‘The Times’ advertised for ‘guns’ to join an expedition to find Fawcett, the lure was too great for a young Peter Fleming and he immediately signed up, intending to send dazzling dispatches from the jungle. The expedition set out from Sao Paulo and, following tributaries of the Amazon, headed to Fawcett’s last-known position. What followed was, in Fleming’s words, ‘a venture for which Rider Haggard might have written the plot and Conrad designed the scenery’. As the expedition forged its way deeper into the Amazon, disagreements fractured the group and the entire adventure ended in a chaotic race to be the first to report back home. Though the fate of Colonel Fawcett remains a mystery, Peter Fleming’s wild escapade in the heart of Brazil has become one of the 20th century’s best-loved travel classics.

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Beyond Bogota: Diary of a Drug War Journalist in Colombia by Garry Leech

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Independent journalist Garry Leech has spent the last eight years working in the most remote and dangerous regions of Colombia. Unlike other Western reporters, most of whom rarely leave Bogotá, Leech learns the truth about conflicts and the U.S. war on drugs directly from the source: farmers, male and female guerrillas, union organizers, indigenous communities, and many others.
Beyond Bogotá is framed around the eleven hours that Leech was held captive by the FARC, Colombia’s largest leftist guerrilla group, in August 2006. Drawing on unprecedented access to soldiers, guerrillas, paramilitaries, and peasants in conflict zones and cocaine-producing areas, Leech’s documentary memoir is an epic tale of a journalist’s search for meaning in the midst of violence and poverty. This compelling account provides fresh insights into U.S. foreign policy, the role of the media, and the plight of everyday Colombians caught in the middle of a brutal war.

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Eight Feet in the Andes: Travels with a Mule in Unknown Peru by Dervla Murphy

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The eight feet belong to Dervla Murphy, her nine-year-old daughter Rachel and Juana, an elegant mule, who together clambered the length of Peru, from Cajamarca near the border with Ecuador, to Cuzco, the ancient Inca capital, over 1300 miles to the south.
With only the most basic necessities to sustain them and spending most of their time above 10,000 feet, their journey was marked by extreme discomfort, occasional danger and even the temporary loss of Juana over a precipice. Yet mother and daughter, a formidable duo, were unflagging in their sympathetic response to the perilous beauty and impoverished people of the Andes.
In this extraordinary adventure, Dervla Murphy is at her intrepid best, facing up to the terrors, horrors and joys of her journey along the mountain paths.

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Ripped And Torn: Levi’s, Latin America and the Blue Jean Dream by Amaranta Wright

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Amaranta Wright was a young writer living in Miami when Levi’s hired her to travel through Latin America. Her brief was to befriend teenagers and report back with every aspect of their lives: their hopes, fears, dreams and aspirations. At first, she saw the job as a means to travel around a continent she loved. But as time passed, the more sinister and divisive aspects of what she was being asked to do became apparent, her attempts to understand the dispossessed of these countries constantly frustrated by the mechanics of corporate globalisation – its unspoken aim to reduce individuals to bullet points.
This is a compellingly humane portrait of a continent in crisis – riddled with paradox, complexity, beauty and brutality. It is a book about the arrogance with which we in the West refer to ‘developing’ continents, the developed world’s overarching desire to turn people into consumers, and the often insidious methods employed to this end. It is about what happens when indigenous voices are silenced by corporate vision.

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Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil by Caetano Veloso

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“Caetano Veloso is one of the greatest songwriters of the century: a master melodist, a lyricist who merges surreal imagery with a sense of history” – “The New York Times.” Often described inadequately as the John Lennon or Bob Dylan of Brazil, Caetano Veloso is unquestionably one of the most influential and beloved of Brazilian artists and has developed a worldwide following. Now, in his long awaited memoir, he tells the heroic story of how, in the late sixties, he and a group of friends from the Northeastern state of Bahia created tropicalismo, the movement that shook Brazilian culture and civic order and pushed a nation then on the margins of world politics and economics into the pop avant-garde. “Tropical Truth” recounts the story of a country, its most subversive generation, and the odyssey of a brilliant constellation of artists. By turns erudite and playful, dreamlike and confessional, “Tropical Truth” is a revelation of Brazil’s most famous artist, one of the greatest popular composers of the past century.

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