The Open Veins of Latin America : Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, Paperback

The Open Veins of Latin America : Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent Paperback

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Since its U.S. debut a quarter-century ago, this brilliant text has set a new standard for historical scholarship of Latin America.

It is also an outstanding political economy, a social and cultural narrative of the highest quality, and perhaps the finest description of primitive capital accumulation since Marx.

Rather than chronology, geography, or political successions, Eduardo Galeano has organized the various facets of Latin American history according to the patterns of five centuries of exploitation.

Thus he is concerned with gold and silver, cacao and cotton, rubber and coffee, fruit, hides and wool, petroleum, iron, nickel, manganese, copper, aluminum ore, nitrates, and tin.

These are the veins which he traces through the body of the entire continent, up to the Rio Grande and throughout the Caribbean, and all the way to their open ends where they empty into the coffers of wealth in the United States and Europe.

Weaving fact and imagery into a rich tapestry, Galeano fuses scientific analysis with the passions of a plundered and suffering people.

An immense gathering of materials is framed with a vigorous style that never falters in its command of themes. All readers interested in great historical, economic, political, and social writing will find a singular analytical achievement, and an overwhelming narrative that makes history speak, unforgettably.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Geopolitics
  • ISBN: 9781846687426



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Galeano is one of only 2 Uruguayan authors I have read (the other is Onetti). His trilogy Memory of Fire is one of the few non-fiction works that I have regularly recommended. The trilogy is a more or less complete history of America and it is organised as the most humane of narratives possible on a history that is far removed from humanity. This work is an earlier and more overtly polemical history of 5 centuries of the bloodletting of the Latin American continent almost unto death.Written in 1971 The Open Veins has become a classic among scholars of Latin American history and although it does not have the wonderful structure and narrative flow of the Memory of Fire trilogy it is an incredibly compelling read even for the non-historian. Galeano's gift has been honed over the years but his talent for engaging you with history shines even in this earlier work. Galeano has been compared favourably to Dos Passos and Marquez and that is not too high a praise.If you want to discover how a mythically rich continent can be reduced to penury read this book. If you want an insight as to how the IMF can enslave not just nations but whole continents read this book, What the hell - READ THIS BOOK.

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