One long Economist article,
This review is from: Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America's Soul (Paperback)This book is excellent as an introduction to the history, politics and economics of Latin America. Written by a former journalist for the Economist, it has a quick, catchy and seemingly neutral language, reading like any article of the British magazine, and making craftful use of statistics and examples of different countries and people. It gives an idea of the complexity of a continent that is still struggling to find itself in this world, thereby also the somewhat grandious title.
The book does nevertheless not do justice to its grandious title; its strengths ennumerated above are also its weaknesses: trying to cover such a vast subject in a journalistic manner can only make too many of the examples as superficial at most (some of the smaller Latin American countries can only be treated in a few lines), and simplistic at its worse (the complex relations between Latin America and its mighty northern neighbour are grossly simplified, although the author admits it is a much vaster subject).
More often than not, the author does not bother to argue for things that he presents as "obvious", but are surely not obvious in such a complex setting as in Latin America. In this respect, the author does have an almost explicit ideological standpoint that he does not diverge from: a neo-Liberal right-wing approach. Although a book is not necessarily judged by this (I have read numerous great books of particular political views that I am not in agreement with), the problem is that he does not want to see things from another side. He is apologetic of regimes with questionable human rights records, as long as they have lead the "right" economic policies, and does not even try to go into depth with "the other side"; the "alternative" of the battle he says is going on in Latin America is openly dismissed.
Therefore, the book should be read with caution and ideological scepticism, but is still worth a good and challenging read (it took me only a few days to get through it!).