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Comandante: Inside Hugo Chavez's Venezuela
 
 

Comandante: Inside Hugo Chavez's Venezuela [Kindle Edition]

Rory Carroll
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £20.00
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Review

In cool, lucid prose, Rory Carroll unpicks the threads that weave together to form a modern-day dictatorship, no less sinister for its relative absence of bloodshed. The portrait of Venezuela that emerges is as nuanced as it is ultimately chilling (MICHELA WRONG author of In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz)

Rory Carroll's brilliant portrait of Chavez reads like a fast-paced novel of ego run amok, an ego that happens to be attached to a masterful politician, a dynamo of energy and charisma, and a colossus of managerial ineptitude. The Comandante is by turns heartbreaking, maddening, absurd, and surreal, a truly epic story of promise squandered and opportunities lost (BEN FOUNTAIN author of Billy Lynn's Long Half-time Walk)

Comandante provides an impressively well-researched and readable portrait... Carroll's book should serve as a useful reminder of what el Comandante did and didn't achieve (The New York Times)

A fine, timely book (The Economist)

This beautifully written and acutely perceptive book amounts to a lyrical meditation on the nature of power . . . [Comandante] will deserve to be the definitive work on Chávez in the English language (David Blair The Daily Telegraph)

An English-language account to accompany the best of those by the region's writers . . . this book, by turns personal, wry and wise, is required reading (Tom Hennigan Irish Times)

In good reporter fashion, he [Rory Carroll] diligently tracks down his sources, turning up a colourful cast of red-shirted Chavista loyalists, bitter political opponents, and the everyday Venezuelans in between. What emerges is a more intimate image of Chavez than his own propaganda allows... true drama lies not in a story's ending but in the twists and turns it takes to get there. On those terms, Comandante delivers (Oliver Balch Independent on Sunday)

A stimulating biography . . . A fine, stately book full of telling detail (The Economist)

A well-considered and painfully fair epitaph for the Chávez regime (John Sweeny Literary Review)

An excellent appraisal of the charismatic leader . . . Carroll gets as close as any outsider to life inside the palace. What emerges is a portrait of a politician with a magnetic people's touch but a woeful grasp of management (Oliver Balch The Guardian)

[A] deeply informative, sprightly chronicle of Venezuela's dizzying journey under its Comandante...Here is a lively portrait of a new Latin American genus: the democratically elected caudillo (Washington Post)

A compellingly written, keenly reported portrait of Venezuela (Julia Seig Financial Times)

Carroll uses interviews and anecdotes effectively to describe Chavez's bizarre court (Giles Milton Mail on Sunday)

Love Chavez or hate him, this is a brilliant portrait layered out in words (Lou Pendergrast More2Read)

Carroll deftly retells the familiar narrative and then adds something new (Dorothy Kronick The New Republic)

Rory Carroll was in prime position to observe the Chavez regime and that is what he gives readers of this book. The distant judgments can come later (Douglas Osler The Scotsman)

Rory Carroll is an excellent journalist and gifted storyteller, and in this book, he tells the tale of Venezuela's leader Hugo Chávez with admirable style and insight. A pleasurable read; highly recommended (JON LEE ANDERSON, author of CHE GUEVARA: A REVOLUTIONARY LIFE)

Superb, witty and subtle... Carroll listens to the people, catching shades, inflections, blighted hopes, distilling common decency (Oldie)

Book Description

Comandante is the definitive account of Hugo Chávez's presidency, and the legacy he has left behind

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2783 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books (6 Mar 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AO3K00S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #174,856 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Chavez and his revolution 5 Mar 2014
By Ross
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This portrait of Venezuela & it's late leader shows both the disastrous nature of Chavez's misrule but also illuminates to an extent why Chavez was popular with the country's poor.

The opposition at least until around 2007, comes across as hypocritical, self satisfied and generally uninterested in the slum dwellers and peasants. The account given of the 2002 coup d'etat is damning. Chavez did genuinely connect with the forgotten masses of Venezuela despite his venality and could make them proud of themselves.

However it's pretty clear that Chavez's rule has been characterised by a destruction of democratic norms- with opponents being routinely jailed, opposition media shut down and massive state surveillance. Although perhaps surprisingly he never went the whole way and abolished democracy entirely- despite his links to Cuba free elections weren't abolished and dissidents were not murdered.

\this has been combined with a level of incompetence that has reduced Venezuela to beggary despite a prolonged oil boom.

Chavez's style of rule- as shown in Comandante- consisted of making grandiose announcements in public, swiftly losing interest in how things developed, allowing cronies to enrich themselves and then making a new announcement a few months later that undid whatever progress had been made towards meeting his previous one.

The highly centralised nature of his rule also ensured that his ministers were focused entirely on getting access to him rather than on their actual jobs and any subject which didn't interest him- like crime- spiralled out of control. Short term political goals ahead of long term development has pretty much destroyed industrial development in the country.

The Chavez portrayed in this book wasn't a monster, but his faults have caused great damage to a the fabric of the nation he professed to love.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great story, poor editing 27 Dec 2013
By Matt
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an engaging tale of a gifted (but very harmful) politician and the damage done to a once-prosperous country. However, it feels disjointed and slapped together, jumping across time periods and subjects with little connective tissue. On the whole, the book seems like a collection of essays or vignettes hastily adapted--and simple editing errors like introducing the same characters multiple times confirm this impression. With better organization, this would be a four star read for sure.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very convincing picture 3 Jan 2014
Format:Hardcover
Some strange opinions given in these reviews, so I thought I'd add my own. I suspect that the one star folk didn't feel it necessary to read the book as they already have a clear view of the subject and any differing views could only be mistaken or malicious. I certainly could not see any evidence to the contrary in their short and very cross reviews.

Rory Carroll is a highly rated and very experienced foreign correspondent, working for a leading newspaper hardly known for kowtowing to the US, capitalist running dogs or fascistic caudillos. His book is evidence-packed, his analysis considered and well-judged, and his conclusions very persuasive.

While the picture presented is of a succession of wasted opportunities, of capricious cascading initiatives, few of which are implemented, of vast oil wealth frittered away or stolen, of economic and managerial incompetence and of rising insecurity, it is not painted just in black and white. The incompetence and intolerance of the rightist opposition - and their anachronistic cultural assumptions - come in for heavy criticism. The fate of Chavez's opponents (few of whom suffer violence or material prison sentences) is favourably contrasted with the situation in other autocracies. The presidential elections, albeit heavily affected by compliant media and massive handouts, produce fairly convincing evidence of popular support. This is a crazy, incompetent and increasingly dangerous country, but not a totalitarian state. The fact that Carroll can wander around fairly freely and gather the information for this excellent book is some evidence of that.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inner Sanctum of the Chavez Era 10 Nov 2013
By PW
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
We who are not Venezuelans only know Chavez via the media. So now I have a better understanding about who Hugo Chavez was as a man and as a leader of his people.
Pro Chavez die - hards will say the book paints a bad picture of the Commandante. As a ordinary human being interested in world affairs ,it is great to know more about the "man" , warts and all.
No human being is perfect !!
Thank you Rory...
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8 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
This guy is anti Chavez, cashing in on the spotlight of his death and releasing a book 2 days after! I have seen him on Al Jazeera and an Australian documentary, he picks out single cases of negative events in Venezuela to build a slanted view. Try Gott or Wilpert, their books are not first editions.
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9 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Joke 12 April 2013
Format:Hardcover
This book is fairly shocking. Bias opinion from an author that claims because he lived in Venezuela knows the truth. Heard a few interviews with him here in Ireland and you would swear the way he goes on about Chavez that Venezuela under him was worse than Stalin's Russia. Also the fact this book came out 2 days after Hugo Chavez's death screams cashing in on the media attention to me. If you want to read a decent account of Chavez's life read Hugo! by Bart Jones a much more fair and balanced opinion of the late leader's life.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent portray of a very polemic figure
I am Venezuelan and I have followed politics since I was a child. I know quite a few things about what is going on in my country and yet I still learnt many fascinating details... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Reader of Various Domains
5.0 out of 5 stars Fact more interesting than fiction
I thought this was a wonderful read. Captivating from the start. It gives an incredible insight into Chavez and life under his rule, and while extremely detailed it flows like a... Read more
Published 10 months ago by A O'Reilly
4.0 out of 5 stars Widened my knowledge on Chevez
A well written in depth piece, the author evidently knows his subject. Learned a lot about this egomaniac individual. Good
Published 11 months ago by Red Rose
1.0 out of 5 stars one-sided account by a known Chavez opponent
If what you are looking for is a balanced view of the legacy of Hugo Chávez, look elsewhere. Rory Carrol is a known opponent of the late Venezuelan president and has been... Read more
Published 11 months ago by jordi
1.0 out of 5 stars Before you buy...
Maybe take a few minutes to read the following - the contrast with Rory's re-telling of his encounter with Chavez and the transcript of what actually occurred is revealing both in... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Tony R
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent review of Chavez' life and political plotting
very timely book, I had just read a book on Fidel by Carlos Widman, and then continued with Chavez. Rory Carroll's book starts slowly in the first few pages and chapters, but then... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Andy Monte
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb! An absolute must-read for anybody interested in Venezuela
A fantastic piece of journalism That gives great colour and insight Into the enigma that is Hugo Chavez. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Karina
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