From the esteemed New Yorker correspondent comes an incisive volume of essays and reportage that vividly illuminates Latin America’s recent history. Only Alma Guillermoprieto, the most highly regarded writer on the region, could unravel the complex threads of Colombia’s cocaine wars or assess the combination of despotism, charm, and political jiu-jitsu that has kept Fidel Castro in power for more than 40 years. And no one else can write with such acumen and sympathy about statesmen and campesinos, leftist revolutionaries and right-wing militias, and political figures from Evita Peron to Mexico’s irrepressible president, Vicente Fox.
Whether she is following the historic papal visit to Havana or staying awake for a pre-dawn interview with an insomniac Subcomandante Marcos, Guillermoprieto displays both the passion and knowledge of an insider and the perspective of a seasoned analyst. Looking for History is journalism in the finest traditions of Joan Didion, V. S. Naipaul, and Ryszard Kapucinski: observant, empathetic, and beautifully written.
Guillermoprieto (The Heart That Bleeds: Latin America Now), Latin America correspondent for the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, presents a collection of essays focusing on Colombia, Cuba and Mexico in the 1990s, accompanied by wonderfully elegant sketches of Eva Per"n of Argentina and Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru. There is some repetition, but this flaw does not seriously detract from her message that although Latin American political culture in the latter half of the 20th century is largely shrouded in myth, particularly because of its potent relationship with the U.S., it does indeed have "its own independent life." Apparent throughout is the author's ability to capture a historical moment and place it in context: for example, her observations of the pope's visit in January 1998 to a Cuba led by Fidel Castro dressed in a dark suit, and not his usual army fatigues, who made many political concessions for the privilege of paying homage to the pope. The chapter on John Paul II is flanked by portraits of Che Guevara and of Castro, the former steeped in romantic fanaticism, the latter seen as clinging to power long after his revolution has been bypassed by history. Guillermoprieto's writing seems unaffected by any obvious political bias; she excoriates the violence of the left (the murderous guerrilla brigades of Colombia) and of the right (the murderous Colombian paramilitary forces). Above all, the author displays an insightful grasp of the absurdities and chaos (one of the root causes of which is the U.S.'s inexhaustible appetite for drugs) that, in her view, permeate Latin American politics. (Apr. 18) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.