This is one of the most striking books I have read for a long time. It consists of almost 600 snippets the author calls "stories" which range from the creation of man to the beginning of the 21st century and cover the globe.
The "stories" have strange titles like this: "Here Lay Paraguay", "Map Broken", "Origin of Language", "The Love of Loves", "Forbidden to be a Woman" and "Literary Origins of the Dog".
The author is Uruguayan and many of the "stories" relate to Latin American history and culture.
I find it rather surprising that someone from South America's smallest country should be so interested in the history of the whole of Latin America all the way from Mexico, across the Caribbean and right down to Patagonia.
Perhaps, he is trying to escape from the nationalism that is so prevalent, not only against neighboring countries but also against the nation with which most Latin Americans have a love-hate relationship, the United States.
At their best, these items are devastatingly insightful and gripping e.g. one called "The Ass":
"He gave warmth to new-born Jesus in the manger, and that's why he is in all the pictures, posing with his big ears besides the bed of straw.
On the back of an ass, Jesus escaped Herod's sword.
On the back of an ass, he wandered all his life.
On the back of an ass, he preached.
On the back of an ass, he entered Jerusalem
Perhaps the ass is not such an ass after all?"
At their worst, they are rather politically correct and there is some predictable Yankee-baiting. However, Galeano upholds the ideals of the American revolution.