Category: Book Reviews

Bolivia in the Age of Gas

Bret Gustafson’s Bolivia in the Age of Gas is an ambitious and exquisitely detailed historical ethnography of Bolivia and its complicated relation with gas (and oil). Fossil fuels, Gustafson argues, have been central to the making of Bolivia, of this “gaseous state.” Drawing on a deep, decades-long engagement in the region…

El jardín pandémico

English + Español
Imagine the tranquility of a garden. With the aroma of flowers mixed in with the buzzing of bees and the contrast of shady trees against the fierce Paraguayan sun. From the intimacy of a family garden in which daily ritual leads one to water the plants, gather up the dry leaves…

How Democracies Die

How Democracies Die analyzes the main dangers that modern democracies face. As the authors warn, 21st-century democracies do not die in one fell swoop, in a violent way, by hands that do not always belong to the political system. On the contrary, modern democracies…

The Return of Collective Intelligence

My college Native American Culture professor,  the Mescalero Apache scholar Inez Sánchez, told our class that we should regard the word “primitive” as synonymous with “complex.” I gained a better understanding of what Sánchez meant reading The Return of Collective…

Vernacular Sovereignties

English + Español
Manuela Lavinas Picq, a professor at the Universidad San Francisco en Quito, Ecuador, offers a rarely seen representation of Latin American Indigenous women as a collective, historical and political actor in search of justice and social transformation. Eurocentric, capitalist…

The Fernando Coronil Reader

English + Español
Fernando Coronil appears on the cover of this posthumous book in a photograph taken by his daughter Mariana. Cement and a communications tower appears to distance him from his beloved plains and grasslands. But no such distance exists. The hammock from…

Borderland Battles

When then-President Juan Manuel Santos signed a peace accord with one of the Western Hemisphere’s oldest guerrillas in 2016 (the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC), optimism ran high that an end to decades-long violence in Colombia had been…

Exile Music

Novels about the Holocaust and Jewish survival span countries and languages and audiences of all ages. Such stories tend to be told against a European or United States background. Rarely does a novel involve European Jewish refugees who found sanctuary in Latin…

Latin American Soldiers

John R. Bawden’s Latin American Soldiers: Armed Forces in the Region’s History introduces readers to the study of Latin American’s Armed Forces., Bawden examines warfare and military traditions in four different countries (Mexico, Cuba, Brazil and Chile)…

Magdalena: River of Dreams

Wade Davis, a Canada-born ethnobotanist, published a widely praised book in 1996 titled One River. It chronicled the explorations and discoveries of his Harvard professor, Richard Schultes, who sought to understand the origins of mind-altering plants and their ritualistic…

The Cubans

Reading the new book The Cubans: Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times made me nostalgic for my years on the island as a U.S. news correspondent. I certainly didn’t miss the struggles or hassles, of which there were plenty, but it made me long for the intelligent…

Ghosts of Sheridan Circle

Targeted killing of political enemies—assassinations—is thankfully rare in the United States. The most famous such assassination occurred in Washington, DC. And it was committed by a close ally of the United States. In September 1976, Chile’s Pinochet dictatorship…

Young Castro: The Making of a Revolutionary

Before he died on Nov. 25, 2016, Fidel Castro told his brother Raúl that he wanted no statues erected in his honor nor any streets, roads or squares named after him…

Regulating Style

At the Art Basel Cities exhibits in Buenos Aires a few months back, Mexican artist Pia Camil displayed her interactive artwork, “Gaby’s T-Shirt,” a striking ceiling-to-floor curtain made of 300…

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