Al filo de las independencias en América Latina presents a comprehensive account of the history of independence movements across Latin America and the Caribbean, along with pop cultural facts about the countries in the region today. The author, an international relations expert and former member of PEN Mexico’s directorial board, provides a well-executed narrative describing the processes of independence, as well details about each country’s political and cultural life.
The book opens with an overview of the region’s colonization by the Spanish, Portuguese and British Empires, as well as France and Holland, and is later divided into two parts: the “Independencias primeras” (“First Independence Movements”) section from 1804 to 1814 and the “Independencias postreras” (“Later Independence Movements”) from 1821 to 1898.
Readers seeking a clear encyclopedia-like breakdown of each country’s story will find this book frustrating since the chapters within these timelines are not broken down by country or regional section (impossible to do since Latin America’s history is far from organized), but along broad lines, with titles such as “From the Happy Planet” or “Sun Rock.” The countries examined are: Mexico,Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Brazil.
Highlights include the section on Haiti, the Caribbean-nation part of the island of Hispaniola and the first to declare its independence from France in 1804; Brazil’s independence from Portugal, noted as the least violent of the revolts; and the chapters dedicated to the failed El Grito de Lares (Cry of Lares) revolt against Spanish rule by Puerto Ricans, as well as Cuba’s complicated history.
In addition to the book’s accessible language when explaining complex political matters, Méndez provides helpful charts listing the region’s presidents, renowned authors, natural resources, military bases and more.
This free-flowing book chock full of details is recommended for anyone wanting to learn more about Latin America’s tumultuous history and cultural background.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.