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Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent [Paperback]

Eduardo Galeano , Cedric Belfrage
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 Jun 1998
This work is a survey of a continent's under-development and the role of the foreign capital and national politics in that process. Rejecting straightforward chronology, the author traces Latin America's exploitation and impoverishment through the history of its principal commodities. Over five centuries, Eduardo Galeano explores the minerals and crops which have made a region poor, while building the fortunes of US and European transnationals. From the gold and silver sought by the Spanish conquistadores to the oil and copper extracted by present-day foreign competitors, Galeano presents a picture of economic injustice. Blending historical fact with poetic imagery, this book is both an critique of transnational exploitation and a tribute to a plundered and suffering people.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 317 pages
  • Publisher: Monthly Review Press; 25th Anniversary Ed. / edition (30 Jun 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0853459916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0853459910
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.3 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 909,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


This book is a monument in our Latin American history. It allows us to learn history, and we have to build on this history (Hugo Chávez, President of Venezuela)

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Galeano's vision is unswerving, surgical and yet immensely generous and humane ... Eduardo Galeano ought to be a household name (Arundhati Roy)

He has more first-hand knowledge of Latin America than anybody else I can think of, and uses it to tell the world of the dreams and disillusions, the hopes and failures of its people... Galeano denounces exploitation with uncompromising ferocity, yet this book is almost poetic in its description of solidarity and human capacity for survival in the midst of the worst kind of despoilation (Isabel Allende)

Remains pertinent nearly 40 years on... Impassioned and lucid, Galeano is a knowledgeable guide through a shameful history of foreign exploitation... If he needs a primer on his southern neighbours, Obama could do worse than studying Chavez's present (Phil Mongredien Observer 2009-06-21)

A valuable study (Sunday Business Post 2009-06-14) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


`A valuable study' - Sunday Business Post --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
I recommend this book to all students, also to those interested in Latin American history and globalization.
This book will challenge some preconceived ideas on population and the resources of "developing nations". It will also help understand what the free market means to developing countries. Also it is a very enjoyable read. This book is an excellent introduction to Latin American history.

Writing Style:

I read 1/3rd of this book on a train journey, so it is well written and interesting to keep you gripped to the book. I personally found the last half of the book to be the most gripping but overal its an excellent book.

Chapter Structure:

Ok very long chapters but broken down into subchapters which makes all the information bite size and highly focused case studies are used to illustrate different aspects of the overall topic of the chapter.


Highly enjoyable and recommended to anyone interested in politics or history.

This is the sort of book which would make a nice gift. On an extra note, I enjoyed this book to the point that I have bought a few of his other books and added them to my pile of must read books for my course. Currently reading Upside down: a Primer for the Looking-Glass World and will have a review up about that book shortly. All depending on when I get to finish it off but some people may prefer that book as it is a lighter read.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful and emotional history book 13 May 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book can be irritating to quite a few people, such as conservative Brits who are proud of the British Empire and USA nationalists who think they are dominating the world because they happen to be cleverer.
Extremely naive interpretations of recent history are surprisingly widespread. We need more books like this one; it is packed with facts and figures but it is still easy to read. This is probably because Galeano's driving force is his passion for justice.
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable 28 Mar 2002
By A Customer
This book is quite simply a classic - indispensable. Ever since the conquest Latin America has been robbed, pillaged, exploited by the imperialist countries (first Spain, then England, now USA) - the very structure of the region reflects its reconstruction over 500 years as a source of much of the wealth that we in the core countries of the world system enjoy and take for granted. Moreover you'll discover things you didn't know, like the destruction of independent and progressive Paraguay in the 19th Century.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Open your eyes and read open veins 16 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It tells the tragic story of Latin America like no other book. The book will take you up 1970, but the issues then are the issues today so you will get the sense that not a lot has changed. The writer has his finger on the pulse of Latin America and tells its many stories in such a fashion that you move seamlessly from one horror to next almost not being shocked anymore as its terrible history unfolds.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read 29 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Firstly upon reading this book I thought it was leaning toward a rant against American policy in Latin America, but the author whilst doing this to begin with, does show in considerable depth the circumstances pertaining in Spain before the conquest. His writing style is easy to follow and it is a fascinating journey through the realms of the past centuries of how a continent has been used and abused for the gain of other continents. Wholeheartedly recommended.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless and enlightening read 30 April 2009
This book is a fantastic piece of journalistic-style prose describing, in a wonderful impassioned voice, the unending pillage of Latin America. It flies by and the author really fits a surprising amount in. Anyone interested in development theories should read this as their base dependency theory text. It really portrays the realities of the asymmetry between the metropolis and the pillaged peripheral states of the world economy. Essential reading, as i'm sure many people are finding out since Hugo Chavez gave a copy to Mr. Obama recently thereby raising its profile again..
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
open vains of latin america is a must be read book for all this people with a sense of justice and beauty,because this book who was wroten even before I was born still being a picture of the very forgoten but very loved latin america.In the hands of this master of simplisity, research, and black humor, Galeano, its almost everything you don't know about latinamerica and you want to know.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I liked this book as it gave me a perspective of how US, British and Spanish imperialism has affected latin America from a latin American viewpoint as the author is Uruguayan. I also read this book at the same time as I read the 'Untold History of the United States' by Oliver Stone. What I liked was how the the facts of the latter confirmed those outlined by Eduardo Galeano. The story of how western democracies have literally economically raped an entire continent is mind boggling and a shameful part of our history. Apart from the economic theft of its resources, the amount of direct and subversive political interference in the sovereign affairs of latin America by us and in particular the United States is equally scandalous. No wonder these countries have little love towards us. To read this book is to read about commercial, political and military exploitation of weaker peoples by strong nation states and it is a shameful indictment of our imperialistic past.

This historic unveiling is well referenced, well told and a good read. I do wish there was more political explanations held within and to some extent the economic facts got somewhat laboured at times. However it was an important read for me as I spend a lot of time in latin America and I regularly come across this historic resentment for deeds done in a bygone well as in recent times. We made many a country in this geographical sphere into a banana republic, this book tells you how we did it, how much it cost us and how much we took away...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Raw and difficult to read at times as it presents a truth that we know...
This book requires the reader to have some prior knowledge of Latin America. It is best to read whilst you are travelling around South America or after you have had had the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Patricia
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this, especially if travelling in South America.
Such an eye opener, maybe a little over emphasised at time but it shows his passion for the events around the history of Latin America.
Published 4 months ago by dimzum2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read
Really enjoyed this book. I'd heard a lot about it and it didn't disappoint: thought-provoking, informative and beautifully written in parts. Read more
Published 7 months ago by bleaver
5.0 out of 5 stars Open Veins
An accurate historical account of the imperialism bestowed unto Latin America and other countries whose victims share the same perpetrators. Read more
Published 7 months ago by adam pankhurst
5.0 out of 5 stars Open your mind about Latin America
Amazing Amazing Amazing 3x. Definitely it is an art. This book is a monument. Many friends from around the world asked me about Latin America. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Junior Ota
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading!
For anyone interested in either South America, corporate injustice or the struggle of indigenous populations, this is an absorbing, informative and well-written (and translated)... Read more
Published 12 months ago by dominic gillespie
5.0 out of 5 stars muy bueno
this book is muy bueno.

As bumble-bee man would say "Senor Burns es el diablo" (replace Burns for A.N.Other name)
Published 12 months ago by J. Sullivan
4.0 out of 5 stars Boho traveller
An absolute MUST for anyone travelling South America. Galeano delivers a passionate, in depth and accurate account of the eternal struggle of the Latin American people.
Published 14 months ago by Ronald Alecio
5.0 out of 5 stars Open Veins of Latin America
What a book !
Makes me ashamed of my heritage and yet that is how ALL of OUR world developed. Rape and Pillage, Pillage and more Pillage ! Read more
Published 20 months ago by GP05EEE
5.0 out of 5 stars Very insightful
Very interesting and insightful; I find it hard to believe the author is not a professional historian. Read more
Published on 24 May 2011 by Carlo
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