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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mainly for those with Chilean connections, 11 April 2009
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This review is from: Pinochet in Piccadilly: Britain and Chile's Hidden History (Paperback)
Andrew Gibbons review: Pinochet in Piccadilly

This is primarily a book about the links between Britain and Chile over the past two hundred years. Although one chapter deals with Gen. Pinochet's detention in the UK, that is not the main content, although two thirds of the book covers the period from the Allende government to the present.

The book is more likely to appeal to British people with Chilean connections than to the general reader.

It seems quite well researched, both for the historical material on Cochrane and North, and for the twentieth century stuff. Much of the twentieth century material is either based on or enlivened by accounts of meetings with various people involved, from tortured Chilean exiles in the UK to Scottish trade unionists who boycotted Chilean air force work and the economist (Sir) Alan Walters.

The author manages to dig out (or as he might see it, dig up) a fascinating set of connections between Chile and the UK throughout the last two centuries. More speculatively, he makes an excursion into 1970s British far right politics by discussing the potential for an anti-left-wing military coup in the UK.

The book understandably misses no opportunity to dwell on the evils of Pinocho, but more questionably also tries to link his authoritarian excesses to the economic reforms of the British Tories under Margaret Thatcher. Anyone associated with either of these leaders is regarded as at least sinister.

Several times the author writes critically of British commentators who "visited Chile and saw what they wanted to see", but given his own stance, this is clearly something he does too.

Viewed from the globalised twentyfirst century where economic reform is mainstream policy discourse for aspiring countries on all continents, the author's left/right ideological perspective looks a bit dated and Old Labour. It should have been possible to take a more generous view of post-Pinochet developments, given that more time has now elapsed since the end of the military regime than the number of years it was in power (see, for example, Patricio Navia (2004) Las Grandes Alamedas: el Chile Post Pinochet). Economic reform has paid off in democratic Chile as in many other countries, not least China, and it seems churlish to ignore this.
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