Posts Tagged ‘Colombia’

51f38SlZnUL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Across ten chapters organized thematically rather than chronologically, Michael J. LaRosa and German R. Mejía present this fine English-language history of Colombia in accessible prose that only occasionally belies that they were writing or thinking initially in Spanish before making this considerable gift to the English reading public.

The line-up of chapter titles arguably serves as LaRosa’s and Mejía’s first promise that their history will not weep over a fragmented and violent nation, but rather will sketch the contours of a nation seeking unity, nourished by a certain dynamism, and eager—or perhaps more often merely destined—to find its place in the world:

  • ‘Origins’
  • ‘The Colombian Nations’
  • ‘The Dynamics of a Political Community’
  • ‘The Cadence of Unity’
  • ‘Conflict’
  • ‘Economic Unity’
  • ‘A Common Space’
  • ‘Cultural Dynamism’
  • ‘Daily Life’
  • ‘Colombia and the World’

The book’s first chapter (‘Origins’) establishes the case for autonomy and then independence from Spain on the awkward fact that Spanish plans for that European nation’s ‘American’ colonies would always leave the ‘creoles’ at a disadvantage over peninsular interests. The detail that this history begins with post-Columbian political reorganization rather than the pre-Columbian ‘given’ that the Spanish conquerers encountered is perhaps symptomatic of the concise nature of the work. It is also programmatic of history and of this particular narrative that ‘Colombia’ was born in blood and contest, a genesis that wants to extend its hegemony—but in LaRosa’s and Mejía’s telling, does not finally succeed—from the beginning through to the end of the nation’s story. In this North American reader’s opinion, the authors make the eventual Colombian state’s post-Encounter pre-history understandable in broad brush and via analogies with a North American historical experience that is more familiar to the book’s English readership. (more…)

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This exceptionally planned and executed visual introduction to the Colombia surpasses any other coffee-table book about a nation or region that I’ve seen.

51ebrfdjyzl-_sx362_bo1204203200_-2Its 333 pages and high-quality paper stock make it an admirably heavy work, a full five pounds in the lifting.

Best of all, its exquisitely photographed images communicate the beauty and stunningly regionalized diversity of this South American nation. The prose does not pander to the reader, but introduces him or her to just enough context to form a helpful setting to the photography, which dominates.

A well-written (in Spanish) ‘Prologue’ and ‘Presentation’ give way to a presentation of one of the signature characteristics of the country: ‘Territorio de Contrastes’ (A Territory of Contrasts). The rest of the work leads the reader across the major regions of this vast country: ‘Altiplano Cundiboyacense y Santanderes’, ‘Region Caribe’, ‘Antioquia y Región Cafeteria’, ‘Pacífico’, ‘Sur Andino’, ‘Alto Magdalena’, ‘Orinoquía’, and finally ‘Amazonía’. (more…)

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