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4.0 out of 5 stars It needs a ruler, 24 April 2013
P. Bentley (New Malden, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America (Paperback)
I read the 2006 edition, so things may have changed in the 2011 one, but I was taken aback to find no mention of the awe-inspiring occasion when the Pope took a ruler, drew a line from pole to pole, a line which chopped off the extreme right-hand tip of South America, and announced that Spain could have all the New Worlds west of his line, and (by implication) Portugal could have all the New Worlds east of the line, e.g. a little bit of South America, plus Africa, India and South-East Asia. In a book aimed at students why on earth miss out something so dramatic and, er, politically incorrect? Especially as the pope in question was the Borgia pope, Alexander VI, of all people.

And from this book it wasn't clear to me why Spain didn't object when Portugal gradually spread the line further and further west and ended up with the current, gigantic, Brazil.

Also Christians in Muslim Spain & Portugal may have "learned a healthy respect for the cultural achievements of Islam" (p.30), but let's not forget that the Muslims were impressed when they invaded those countries, e.g. the Arab writer Merida refers to Seville's "magnificent palaces and churches". Which reminds us that Islamic civilisation was of course a development of the magnificence the Muslim Arabs found when they started invading the Persian and Christian Byzantine empires in the 7th century.

Finally, why not remind students about the Oscar-winning movie "The Mission" and the hit musical "Evita"?

The above caveats apart, I very much recommend this book.
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Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America
Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America by John Charles Chasteen (Paperback - 1 April 2011)
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