Synopses & Reviews
In 1808, world history took a decisive turn when Napoleon occupied Spain and Portugal, a European event that had lasting repercussions more than half the world away, sparking a series of revolutions throughout the Spanish and Portuguese empires of the New World. These wars for independence resulted eventually in the creation of nineteen independent Latin American republics.
Here is an engagingly written, compact history of the Latin American wars of independence. Proceeding almost cinematically, scene by vivid scene, John Charles Chasteen introduces the reader to lead players, basic concepts, key events, and dominant trends, braided together in a single, taut narrative. He vividly depicts the individuals and events of those tumultuous years. Here are the famous leaders--Simon Bolivar, Jose de San Martin, and Bernardo O'Higgins, Father Hidalgo and Father Morelos, and many others. Here too are lesser known Americanos: patriot women such as Manuela Saenz, Leona Vicario, Mariquita Sanchez, Juana Azurduy, and Policarpa Salavarrieta, indigenous rebels such as Mateo Pumacahua, and African-descended generals such as Vicente Guerrero and Manuel Piar. Chasteen captures the gathering forces for independence, the clashes of troops and decisions of leaders, and the rich, elaborate tapestry of Latin American societies as they embraced nationhood. By the end of the period, the leaders of Latin American independence would embrace classical liberal principles--particularly popular sovereignty and self-determination--and permanently expanding the global reach of Western political values.
Today, most of the world's oldest functioning republics are Latin American. And yet, Chasteen observes, many suffer from a troubled political legacy that dates back to their birth. In this book, he illuminates this legacy, even as he illustrates how the region's dramatic struggle for independence points unmistakably forward in world history.
"Americanos is never dull or stodgy. On the contrary, it sometimes gives the giddy feeling of one-damn-thing-after-another."--Hugh O'Shaughnessy, New Statesman
"With the verve of a great storyteller and the erudition of an academic, John Charles Chasteen gives us a compact but fresh and informative history of the wars and the main protagonists.... A brilliant navigation of a complex history written with unparalleled clarity.... For all those interested in understanding Latin America today, this is an important and necessary book."--Enrico Tortolano, Tribune
"Chasteen leaves no stone unturned...a comprehensive yet concise overview of a major turning point in Latin American history.... Chasteen's graphic retelling lies in the colorful splashes of language he deploys to transport the reader back to this tumultuous time.... Strikes a neat balance between attentive commentary and dynamic storytelling."--Kirkus Reviews
"Dazzling in its regional and transatlantic scope and stimulating in the interpretive challenge it poses for revaluing notions of popular sovereignty in Latin America's Wars of Independence, Americanos is narrative history at its best. Students and specialists alike will be hard-pressed to put this vibrant volume down."--Gilbert M. Joseph, Yale University
"John Chasteen is a terrific storyteller, and the protagonists in this epic narrative are vivid and fascinating. Along with the usual cast of characters--Bolívar, Hidalgo, San Martín, José Bonifácio--we are also introduced to men of color from modest backgrounds and women, from the elite and popular classes, who made significant contributions to the struggles for independence. Moreover, he consistently chronicles their participation within the context of new transatlantic political and cultural trends. The result is a book that marvelously demonstrates how scholarly research redefines the way we narrate historical events."--Barbara Weinstein, New York University
"John Chasteen's survey of the Latin American independence struggles takes the reader through an extremely complex and dramatic half-century or more of history in a compressed but judicious style that sacrifices neither narrative sweep nor accessibility. Particularly notable are an unusually detailed discussion of the political events, both in Europe and the Iberian colonies, that led up to the armed insurgencies themselves, and sharply rendered mini-biographies of some of the era's great revolutionary figures."--Eric Van Young, University of California, San Diego
"A vivid and cinematic history structured around the extraordinary cast of characters who came together to create Latin American independence. Readers will find here a thoroughly engaging introduction to these 'other' American revolutions."--George Reid Andrews, author of Afro-Latin America, 1800-2000
"Americanos provides much to think and debate about, and it does so in a pleasant and innovative way. What more could one ask?... Americanos is good news for readers of history."--Primera Revista Latinoamericana de Libros
"Appropriate for a survey-level undergraduate course in revolutionary Latin America." --World History Bulletin
A premier volume in Oxford's Pivotal Moments in World History series, Americanos offers an engagingly written, compact history of the Latin American wars of independence. Proceeding almost cinematically, scene by vivid scene, John Charles Chasteen introduces the reader to lead players, basic concepts, key events, and dominant trends, braided together in a single, taut narrative. He vividly depicts the individuals and events of those tumultuous years, capturing the gathering forces for independence, the clashes of troops and decisions of leaders, and the rich, elaborate tapestry of Latin American societies as they embraced nationhood.
About the Author
John Charles Chasteen
is Patterson Distinguished Term Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Both a writer and a translator, his books include Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America
Table of Contents
Discovering América, 1799-1805
Pillars of the Crown, 1806-1810
Not-so-Civil Wars, 1810-1812
A Lost Cause?, 1812-1815
Independence Won, 1816-1824
Nation-Building Begins, 1824-1850