1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Distorted, insensitive, inaccurate, and yet interesting,
This review is from: The Return of Eva Peron (Paperback)I find this book interesting because I am interested in the perception people had of Eva Peron before the musical based on her life was released. But I found that the author's description of Evita, Juan Peron, and Peronism, is distorted. It is well established by now that Juan Peron was not a dictator and was elected by overwhelming majority in three elections. And yet this book called Peron a "dictator" and tells his story in terms of him being a dictator who imposed his will on the unsuspecting and naive Argentine population. I am not defending Juan Peron; what I'm saying is that Peron was much more complicated than the linear perception of him as a dictator, and Argentina is a far more complicated country, with a much more complex history, than this author can convey.
I must take into account that this book was written in the early 1970s; Juan Peron's third wife, Isabel, had been elected Vice President and upon Peron's death she had become the first female President of a nation in the Western Hemisphere. One of the most important things Isabel did in during her tragically short time as President was to return the embalmed body of Eva Peron to Argentina (Evita's body had been in Spain; for elaboration on the story of Evita's body, see SANTA EVITA). Hence the title of the book THE RETURN OF EVA PERON. The author, therefore, takes the "infamy" of such a seemingly bizarre situation - the returning of a corpse to its homeland - and recounts the story in the vein of something of a noir-ish soap opera. In doing so, he commits historical inaccuracies, indulges in cultural insensitivities (death in Hispanic culture is viewed in a different context than in Anglo Saxon nations; the author fails to take account of that fact), and fails to provide any significant insight into Argentine culture. I'm struggling to figure out how to say it, let's see: he reads the whole thing as "concept" and writes like a screenwriter. I'm struggling to avoid the words "racism," "bigotry," etc., but I think that in many instances such terms would be accurate. That's why I think the publication date of this book should be taken into account. The prose and tone is very dated.
Perhaps the most objectionable reference in the book is the author's reference to Evita's death being part of "the passion play of a dictatorship." If you are interested in gaining more accurate insight into the Peronist experience of Evita's death, and the response of the Argentine population (colored by its Hispanic view of, and attitude toward, death), I would recommend reading EVITA: THE REAL LIFE OF EVA PERON and PERON AND THE ENIGMAS OF ARGENTINA. Both books mention that there was no coercion by the Peronist government in terms of the importance of Evita's death. The Argentine population was truly devastated by her death, and the extent of their mourning even exceeded what Juan Peron himself had anticipated. "I never knew they loved her so much," Peron was heard to comment while walking in the funeral procession through downtown Buenos Aires.
Andrew Michael Parodi