It is astonishing that Simón Bolívar, the great Liberator of South America, is not better known in the United States. He freed six countries from Spanish rule, traveled more than 75,000 miles on horseback to do so, and became the greatest figure in Latin American history. His life is epic, heroic, straight out of Hollywood: he fought battle after battle in punishing terrain, forged uncertain coalitions of competing forces and races, lost his beautiful wife soon after they married and never remarried (although he did have a succession of mistresses, including one who held up the revolution and another who saved his life), and he died relatively young, uncertain whether his achievements would endure.
Drawing on a wealth of primary documents, novelist and journalist Marie Arana brilliantly captures early 19th-century South America and the explosive tensions that helped revolutionize Bolívar. In 1813 he launched a campaign for the independence of Colombia and Venezuela, commencing a dazzling career that would take him across the rugged terrain of South America, from Amazon jungles to the Andes mountains. From his battlefield victories to his ill-fated marriage and legendary love affairs, Bolívar emerges as a man of many facets: fearless general, brilliant strategist, consummate diplomat, passionate abolitionist, gifted writer, and flawed politician.
A major work of history, Bolívar colorfully portrays a dramatic life even as it explains the rivalries and complications that bedeviled Bolívar’s tragic last days. It is also a stirring declaration of what it means to be a South American.
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There will be blood.
I was completely absorbed by this audiobook! As a Venezuelan, I superficially studied Bolívar's life and the War of Independence in school, but the version I learned was very politically correct. This book shows both the strengths and weaknesses of The Liberator, and that made the experience all the more enlightening. I wish this had been available when I was a teenager! Personally, I wasn't aware of how brutal all participating sides had been during the conflict! Yikes! In that sense, this was an eye opener. Yes, there was courage and sacrifice, but also a surreal amount of violence and bloodshed. I was shocked and saddened by this perspective. The book includes a lot of detail without ever being even slightly tedious. No matter where you're from, chances are you'll be similarly fascinated with the history. There's much to learn from it and it would easily make an epic blockbuster movie.
The narrator did a great job, only he constantly mispronounces the name of the city of Coro: the accent is on the first syllable, not the second! This is irritating as the city plays a recurrent role in the life of Bolívar and its name is repeated hundreds of times. Crommett's awful pronunciation of French words (mainly names and cities) is also a bit annoying, but there's a very limited number of these. What's most important is that he reads at a very nice pace (not too slowly or too quickly) and both his English and Spanish are very clear.
Absolutely fantastic book!
- Jean "I am an avid eclectic reader."