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Romantic Revolutionary: Simon Bolivar and the Struggle for Independence in Latin America [Hardcover]

Robert Harvey
1.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

21 April 2011
Simon Bolivar was the archetypal romantic revolutionary. Born into privilege and nurtured in the Rousseau’s philosophy of the Homme Sauvage, it was not until the young colonial visited Europe that the taper of revolution was lit that sent the young man on a death-defying quest to fight for the people of his homeland, and eventually liberate the whole of continental South America. Bolivar’s struggle for liberty is a story of extraordinary courage and fortune. Since the age of the Conquistadores, South America was controlled from Spain with an iron grip. The Spanish army brutalised the people while the wealth of the continent was shipped away to Europe. In 1807 he returned to Caracas and joined the resistance movement, declaring independence for Venezuela four years later. He soon gave up politics, however, to search for a military solution, devising the ‘Decree of War until Death’ in July 1813, and claiming the title El Liberador. Yet once again, after initial victories he found himself fleeing for his life. His final campaign from 1817 to 1821 saw the eventual liberation of Venezuela, Columbia, Equador and Panama. He continued his commitment to liberty with the subsequent conquest of Peru. In 1825, the new nation of Bolivia was created in the spirit that had driven Bolivar himself to achieve so much – revolutionary zeal and enlightenment principles. Nonetheless, by 1828 Bolivar had declared himself a dictator. After assassination attempts and uprisings the liberator was finally hounded from office and eventually died as he waited to go into exile in Europe. Bestselling author of The War of Wars, Robert Harvey bring a lifetime’s fascination into Bolivar and explores the complex personality behind the revolutionary. He vividly recreates the story of the campaigns and draws a panoramic portrait of South America at the turning of the Spanish Empire.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Constable (21 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849013543
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849013543
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.7 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 636,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

The action-packed story of how South America was liberated from the Spanish Empire and a gripping portrait of the complex, romantic revolutionary, Bolivar, who transformed from El Liberador to dictator and, finally, exile.

About the Author

Robert Harvey is a former member of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, was assistant editor of The Economist, and foreign affairs leader writer for the Daily Telegraph. His books include the highly acclaimed The Wars of Wars and Mavericks. He lives in Powys, Wales.

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not well written. 5 Jun 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is so badly edited that it is not worth the money!

For example, the port of La Guaira is badly spelt and Los Reyes Católicos are described as Isabella of Aragón and Fernando of Castilla when, in fact, they were Isabella of Castilla and Fernando of Aragón - a major error. Other silly errors include the fact that the author describes Santa Fé de Bogotá as being a Journey to the east of Caracas when, of course, it is a journey to the west. Also, the city of Cúcuta, on the border between Venezuela and Colombia, carries the accent on the first "u", not the second - this error is committed several times as the city is mentioned frequently in the text.

The description of the deplorable and disgraceful behaviour of the Spanish "conquistadores" and subsequent colonists is very accurate. The books of Hugh Thomas, "Rivers of Gold" and "The Golden Age", will give those interested readers more background e.g. the total genocide of the native populations of the Caribbean within two hundred years of the arrival of Columbus.

This book is very critical of Bolívar - I do not believe that Hugo Chávez will allow its sale in the República Bolivariana de Venezuela!

Don't buy it!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining read, but not a lot new here 3 May 2011
By matt b.
Format:Hardcover
This is a good read and provides fair detail on Bolivar's life and campaigns. there is little new here, however, and if you have read Lynch's biography there is no real reason to buy this one. If you want more detail on the individual campaigns and a different angle on the South American Wars on Independence in the north of the continent, check out Conquer or Die! by Ben Hughes, a thoroughly entertaining account of the role played by Bolivar's British Volunteers in the campaigns of 1817-1821.

Conquer or Die!: British Volunteers in Bolivar's War of Extermination 1817-21 (General Military)
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed 14 Aug 2011
Format:Hardcover
Not to rehash any of the previous reviewers points, I will just say I agree. I really wanted to enjoy this book. The pace is good and writing enjoyable as in a novel.
The research is lacking. For example on page 115 he refers to Lord Wellesly as an Englishman. He was born in County Meath Ireland. On page 242 Colonel Rooke was also referred to as an Englishman. He was born in Dublin Ireland. Colonel O'Connor was born in Co. Cork and commander of the (Irish) lancers. On and on I could go, but it would be repetitiveness.

A key figure in Bolivars life Daniel O'Leary is glossed over or referred to as a starry eyed worshiper, page 215. Yet O'Leary was Bolivars military and political strategist and rose to the rank of Brigadier General, never mentioned. He was such a key figure in Bolivars life that when he died in Bogota Colombia, the Venezuelan government removed his remains to Caracas and he is interred with the Liberator himself in the national pantheon. So although he quotes from him extensively, he leaves out his role in Bolivars life other than an aide de camp cum biographer.

As for the the "British Legion" the troops were predominately Irish and except for a few English, Welsh and Scots extras, they had an Irish Identity. So much so that their standard was the Irish Harp that flew over the fortress of Riocacha that fell into their hands in Bolivars inland campaign.

I feel the author is either unwilling to do the research or has a bias towards the role of the Irish in South America.
It is disappointing and with a good researcher and editor it could have been avoided. There is no excuse.
Overall a lot of the facts are misinterpreted or history is being rewritten.

Save your money. I wish I had.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
It is not possible not to feel empathy to Southamerican patriots fighting against the cruel Spanish rule. But wars in Spanish America, rather than the freedom cry of Americans against Europeans that only happened in earlier peasants uprisings in Mexico (Hidalgo), were the logical result of antagonism between peninsulares and criollos, not what a marxist would call a clash of classes, and more a domestic Spanish issue than an international war. The situation for indians, blacks or mestizos didn't improve under the new-born American republics, and in fact in countries like Argentina or Chile, the independence was the warning shot for the massacre and extermination of amerindians, in industrial numbers, that was to come in the XIX century.

But if you are interested in balanced History, giving to anyone what is his, don't buy this book.

Tha author takes side very fanatically against Spain, more as a football supporter than as a serious Historian.
Harvey fails to notice that american independence wars were civil wars, with Criollos (american-born Spaniards) enrolled in the Spanish army (the army of Venezuelan volunteers -pardos led by Boves- fighting against Bolívar, the colombian mestizo Aqualongo killed because of oaring loyalty to Spain, Páez (first president of Venezuela) changing from one side to the other), and pure european-blood Spaniards fighting under the insurgent flag (Mina and many others).

He is not able to see that those who fought against Spain, from Bolívar to San Martín, were Spanish themselves, Spanish-Americans.
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