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

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Tropic of Capricorn by Simon Reeve

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In Tropic of Capricorn, bestselling author Simon Reeve embarks on a 23,000-mile trek around the southernmost border of the tropics – a place of both amazing beauty and overwhelming human suffering. Heading east through Africa, Australia and South America, Simon encounters breathtaking landscapes and truly extraordinary people: from Bushmen of the Kalahari and Namibian prostitutes battling with HIV to gem miners in Madagascar and teenagers in the Brazilian favela once described as the most dangerous place on earth. It is a collection of daring adventures, strange rituals and exotic wildlife, all linked together by one invisible line.
Like the best travel writing, Tropic of Capricorn confronts important issues of our time – our changing environment, poverty, globalisation – by taking us on an unforgettable journey of discovery.

Tropic of Capricorn

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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Rio De Janeiro by Ruy Castro

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Occupying what is arguably the most breathtakingly beautiful site in the world, the people of Rio – the Cariocas – tell their stories: of cannibals charming European intellectuals; of elegant slaves and their shabby masters; of how a casual chat between two people drinking coffee on Avenida Rio Branco could affect world coffee markets; of an awesome beach life; of faveals, drugs, police, carnival, football and music. With his own Carioca good humour and spellbinding storytelling gifts, Ruy Castro brings the reader thrillingly close to the flames.

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A Gringa in Bogota: Living Colombia’s Invisible War by June Carolyn Erlick

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To many foreigners, Colombia is a nightmare of drugs and violence. Yet normal life goes on there, and, in Bogota, it’s even possible to forget that war still ravages the countryside. This paradox of perceptions – outsiders’ fears versus insiders’ realities – drew June Carolyn Erlick back to Bogota for a year’s stay in 2005. She wanted to understand how the city she first came to love in 1975 has made such strides toward building a peaceful civil society in the midst of ongoing violence. The complex reality she found comes to life in this compelling memoir. Erlick creates her portrait of Bogota through a series of vivid vignettes that cover many aspects of city life. As an experienced journalist, she lets the things she observes lead her to larger conclusions. The courtesy of people on buses, the absence of packs of stray dogs and street trash, and the willingness of strangers to help her cross an overpass when vertigo overwhelms her all become signs of convivencia – the desire of Bogotanos to live together in harmony despite decades of war. But as Erlick settles further into city life, she finds that ‘war in the city is invisible, but constantly present in subtle ways, almost like the constant mist that used to drip down from the Bogota skies so many years ago’. Shattering stereotypes with its lively reporting, “A Gringa in Bogota” is must-reading for going beyond the headlines about the drug war and bloody conflict.

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Ninety-two Days: A Journey in Guiana and Brazil by Evelyn Waugh

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Evelyn Waugh’s chronicle of a South American journey in which he describes the isolated cattle country of Guinea, sparsely populated by a bizarre collection of visionaries, rogues and ranchers and records his nightmarish experiences travelling on foot, by horse and by boat.

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