Bolivar by Marie Arana
American Liberator

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Ms. Arana is blunt in an assessment that might offend many Latins, but is nonetheless accurate. “Independence had been achieved — enlightened forms of government considered — and yet the victors had emerged with no singleness of purpose...
-Washington Times

Synopsis

It is astonishing that Simón Bolívar, the great Liberator of South America, is not better known in the United States. He freed six countries from Spanish rule, traveled more than 75,000 miles on horseback to do so, and became the greatest figure in Latin American history. His life is epic, heroic, straight out of Hollywood: he fought battle after battle in punishing terrain, forged uncertain coalitions of competing forces and races, lost his beautiful wife soon after they married and never remarried (although he did have a succession of mistresses, including one who held up the revolution and another who saved his life), and he died relatively young, uncertain whether his achievements would endure.

Drawing on a wealth of primary documents, novelist and journalist Marie Arana brilliantly captures early nineteenth-century South America and the explosive tensions that helped revolutionize Bolívar. In 1813 he launched a campaign for the independence of Colombia and Venezuela, commencing a dazzling career that would take him across the rugged terrain of South America, from Amazon jungles to the Andes mountains. From his battlefield victories to his ill-fated marriage and legendary love affairs, Bolívar emerges as a man of many facets: fearless general, brilliant strategist, consummate diplomat, passionate abolitionist, gifted writer, and flawed politician. A major work of history, Bolívar colorfully portrays a dramatic life even as it explains the rivalries and complications that bedeviled Bolívar’s tragic last days. It is also a stirring declaration of what it means to be a South American.
 

About Marie Arana

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Marie Arana was born in Lima, Peru. She is the author of the memoir American Chica, a finalist for the National Book Award; two novels, Cellophane and Lima Nights; and The Writing Life, a collection from her well-known column for The Washington Post. She lives in Washington, DC, and Lima, Peru.
 
Published April 9, 2013 by Simon & Schuster. 625 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Bolivar
All: 4 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Paul Berman on Apr 05 2013

Horse hooves drum like a heartbeat...on the very first page, and by the middle of the book, “snow-capped peaks glisten against azure skies.” All of which may be corny but, like a Technicolor swashbuckler, is dreamily entertaining.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Giles Tremlett on Jun 15 2013

Arana's prose is often beautiful. A novelist turned historian, she tells Bolívar's story wonderfully, though specialists have noted factual errors and anti-Spanish bias.

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WSJ online

Below average
Reviewed by Felipe Fernndez-Armesto on Apr 05 2013

...the book disappoints. Ms. Arana...tells us that she challenged her agent by choosing to "leap" to history from fiction. The decision was unfortunate, as she has discovered no new evidence, formulated no new problems and proposed no new theories.

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Washington Times

Above average
Reviewed by Joseph C. Goulden on Apr 29 2013

Ms. Arana is blunt in an assessment that might offend many Latins, but is nonetheless accurate. “Independence had been achieved — enlightened forms of government considered — and yet the victors had emerged with no singleness of purpose...

Read Full Review of Bolivar: American Liberator | See more reviews from Washington Times

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Malinda Charter

Malinda Charter 22 Jul 2014

Added the book to custom list '2013 NPR'

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