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Simon Bolivar: A Life [Paperback]

John Lynch
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: £14.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

28 Aug 2007
Simon Bolivar was a revolutionary who freed six countries, an intellectual who argued the principles of national liberation, and a general who fought a cruel colonial war. His life, passions, battles and great victories became embedded in Spanish American culture almost as soon as they happened. This is the first major English-language biography of 'The Liberator' in half a century. John Lynch draws on extensive research on the man and his era to tell Bolivar's story, to understand his life in the context of his own society and times, and to explore his remarkable and enduring legacy. The book illuminates the inner world of Bolivar, the dynamics of his leadership, his power to command, and his modes of ruling the diverse peoples of Spanish America. The key to his greatness, Lynch concludes, was supreme will-power and an ability to inspire people to follow him beyond their immediate interests, in some cases through years of unremitting struggle. Encompassing Bolivar's entire life and his many accomplishments, this is the definitive account of a towering figure in the history of the western hemisphere.

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Simon Bolivar: A Life + The Penguin History Of Latin America: New Edition + Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (28 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300126042
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300126044
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 423,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"This impressive biography reveals a complex man not easily moved to pity..." -- The Guardian, September 22, 2007

'This, the first major study of Bolivar in English for 50 years, is, arguably, the definitive account of the life and legacy of El Libertador. John Lynch brilliantly analyses Bolivar's ideas and ideals -- liberty and equality -- as well as the realism of the revolutionary on social reform and his efforts to build a post-colonial independent state.' -- Tribune, October 19, 2007

About the Author

John Lynch is Emeritus Professor of Latin American History and former director of the Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London.

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very Worthy but Dull 19 Sep 2007
By Dr. R. Brandon TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book covers the complete life of Bolivar and his campaign to free the northern states of South America from Royalist Spain during the years 1806 to 1825. The progress of the campaign from New Granada (Colombia), Venezuela, Quito (Ecuador), Peru and Upper Peru (Bolivia) is chronicled by Lynch with very brief descriptions of the battles and somewhat lengthier treatments of the ever changing balances of power of the different social groups in these diverse countries. Bolivar was by no means a perfect hero and his failings are covered fairly. This is a very worthy and well researched book but on the whole rather dull. Lynch appears most at home when discussing political philosophy but his characterisations are rather one dimensional. Three line maps are provided but they do not show all the places or districts mentioned in the text. This book is of great value in that detailed histories in English of South America are difficult to find but it is quite hard work for the reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Giving all the facts... 26 Oct 2011
As an aficionado of this hero of the war of independence in America (South America), I was anxious to read a book that simply gave the facts.

This book is probably the most definitive volume on the life of the Polvorin that is Bolívar.

It is quite dry, in places, but, that is what the book sets out to be, a book heavy on factual references and detail, rather than being, like other volumes, a romantic take on the matters of the short and explosive life that is Simón Bolívar.

If you want to read a softer and more favourable account, then try: "Man of Glory" by Thomas Rourke. (I am lucky enough to own a 1939 first edition of this book -which started me on the journey of learning more about Bolívar. This more romantic account, is softer and very favourable to the revolutionary, but it has quite a few inaccuracies.

This book is harsher and more realistic, and full of facts, but it is very readable, and I would disagree with other reviewers whom found it to be too dry, and one said it was boring. It is not very heavy going, just reasonably heavy n parts, but I found it, overall, to be enjoyable, but I enjoy learning more and more about this man, of whom little is known outside of America (South America).

The only thing to bear in mind is that the author of this work, in my view, does not give a great deal of credence of amazement to the marches and achievements of Bolívar in military terms. What was achieved by this revolutionary, in many of his long marches (900 miles in a month; or marching over the Andes and throughout he desolate llanos; up the great torrents of the Magdalena; up the mighty River Orinoco; through thick jungles; etc...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very well researched 5 May 2011
By matt b.
This is excellently researched and provides exceptional detail on Bolivar's life and politics. There is little space dedicated to his military campaigns, however. If you want more detail on this aspect 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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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy read but very informative 12 Dec 2007
I think the book is not really a page turner. However, if you have an interest in the history of South America, it is a good book that thoroughly describes one of the key players, Simon Bolivar.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So far, so good! 29 April 2010
I have not finished reading this book. But so far, so good. It is a big and dense book. I am really enjoying it. The only reason to give it 4 stars is only because I have not finished reading it and ca't really tell from now.
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