on 26 January 2014
In 1800 the continent of South America was ruled directly by European countries - Spain and Portugal. South America was bound, in the words of the Americano patriot Mariquita Sanchez de Mendeville, by the 'three chains' of terror, ignorance and Catholicism.
Twenty five years later, the last Spanish army having been defeated at the battle of Ayacucho, South America was a collection of self-governing republics struggling to build themselves into nations.
This very readable book tells the story of those 25 years. It is a story of defeats, victories, incompetence and sacrifice.
The book is surprisingly comprehensive for such a slim volume, and while it tends to concentrate on the key players, such as Bolivar and O'Higgins, and the military situation, it doesn't neglect the the social and political context within which they operated. The whole of South America is a big place - a whole continent - but the author's canvas is large enough to detail the whole picture.
If you know little about these struggles for independence, and would like to know more, then this book would make a very good starting point. Definitely recommended.