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The Making of Modern Colombia: A Nation in Spite of Itself [Paperback]

David Bushnell

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Book Description

29 Mar 1993
Colombia's status as the fourth largest nation in Latin America and third most populous--as well as its largest exporter of such disparate commodities as emeralds, books, processed cocaine, and cut flowers--makes this, the first history of Colombia written in English, a much-needed book. It tells the remarkable story of a country that has consistently defied modern Latin American stereotypes--a country where military dictators are virtually unknown, where the political left is congenitally weak, and where urbanization and industrialization have spawned no lasting populist movement. There is more to Colombia than the drug trafficking and violence that have recently gripped the world's attention. In the face of both cocaine wars and guerrilla conflict, the country has maintained steady economic growth as well as a relatively open and democratic government based on a two-party system. It has also produced an impressive body of art and literature. David Bushnell traces the process of state-building in Colombia from the struggle for independence, territorial consolidation, and reform in the nineteenth century to economic development and social and political democratization in the twentieth. He also sheds light on the modern history of Latin America as a whole.

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The Making of Modern Colombia: A Nation in Spite of Itself + Colombia: Fragmented Land, Divided Society (Latin American Histories)
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About the Author

David Bushnell is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Florida and the author of The Santander Regime in Gran Colombia, among other books.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
In the beginning there were mountains, plains, and rivers, but especially mountains; no one geographic features has so molded the history of Colombia as the Andes. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history of a fascinating country 8 May 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Americans have a very biased view of this country, with its long history of democracy and excellent education system as well as its drug lords and endemic violence. Part of this problem stems from the lack of accurate information about Colombia. This book is the only one I could find in English that gives an accurate overview of the history and to a lesser degree culture of the country. While academic in its approach, it is still accessible to the lay reader, and anyone interested in learning more about Colombia should make sure to read it cover-to-cover.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than drugs and violence 15 April 2004
By Antonio - Published on
This is the best English language history of Colombia available. It follows the history of the country, from its disjointed past to its integrated yet violent present. Bushnell joins traditional "great man" history with current "socieconomic" and "cultural" history. He expresses unqualified admiration for Carlos Lleras Restrepo, and has good things to say about Rafael Nunez, Rafael Reyes, Alfonso Lopez Pumarejo, Cesar Gaviria, Gustavo Rojas Piniblla, Francisco de Paula Santander and even Laureano Gomez. He acknowledges the country's ancestral commitment to economic stability and political moderation (which it traces, among other reasons, to the influence of coffee culture and of the country's traditional poverty), its historic yet slowly eroding loyalty to the Catholic religion and its cultural distinctiveness.
He also provides data to explode the myth that the country is run by a land-owning, violent oligarchy, or that Colombian GDP is mainly drug related, or that the country has historically been more violent than its neighors.
He doesn't make the mistake of allowing his own prejudices to determine what he choses to highlight, while at the same time refraining from moral relativism. He acknowledges both good and bad in all main characters and groups in the country's history, and remains mostly optimistic about its future.
The bibliographic section is priceless, even for Colombians. If you'd like to go beyond generalities and pious nonsense about Colombia, read this book and then, if still interested, round it up with Henderson's "When Colombia Bled" and Safford and Palacios' "Colombia. Fragmented Land, Divided Society". A great list of books on Colombia is available in just look at Bert Ruiz's "My Favorite Books on Colombia" for more, apposite material.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Explores some of the why's of Colombias present situation. 29 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on
The conflict in Colombia isn t easily explained, or studied however this book may provide a first glance on Colombia, and mainly the why's of the present conflict. It invites to some reflection, which always turns out to be incredibly useful.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece 21 Sep 2001
By Bert Ruiz - Published on
Anyone attempting to decipher the complexities of the Colombian crisis must start with this text. It is comprehensive and objective.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Read like a dry history book 30 Sep 2013
By Barbara Wilson - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well researched, but I would like have liked the characters to be personalized more and more attention to summary and highlighting of the various government changes in the beginning of the country rather than an analysis of every president who's terms only lasted two years.
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