Book Report

Open Veins of Latin America. 1997, 317 pages. No photos or illustrations. Eduardo Galeano, translated by Cedric Belfrage. Forward by Isabel Allende.

Imagine finding a magic window; one that’s a bit smudged and cloudy, but also a window with enough cleared areas to allow us new and revealing glimpses into our own turbulent history; long past. Here is one book that attempts to do so.

The author begins this book on a less than cheery and optimistic note:“....Latin America was precocious; it has specialized in losing, ever since those remote times when Europeans ventured across the ocean and buried their teeth in the throats of the Indian civilization.” I shuddered. Nonetheless, I continued reading.

This book has three parts, and seven chapters. Part One...Lust for Gold, Part Two....King Sugar, and Part Three...Invisible Sources of Power. Each section of this book is a separate and fascinating read, and each allowed me to pretend I could actually get into the minds of those first very curious and brave, but also, so very greedy and cruel European explorers/conquistadors/settlers.

The world known to most ordinary European citizens in that earliest era of naval exploration usually kept boundaries to the familiar shores of their own side of the Atlantic Ocean. On the opposite side of the world, and in most of the complex ‘New World’ cultures, natives had little to no idea of what might lie across the vast waters to their east. Thus, the first meeting of East and West became a violent clash of cultures that changed world history,

I still find it hard to get my mind around the fact that each of these two worlds and cultures had little to no knowledge of the other, and this world view made me work harder to truly understand the information in this book. It’s also increased my ongoing interest in the colorful, beautiful, and often tragic Mexican history. I want to learn more.

This book was exciting and engrossing, but it has not been a particularly positive or pleasant book to read. In the forward, Isabel Allende wrote that she found it necessary to read and reread this book three times to really absorb all of the pertinent information found in its pages. She also wrote that the author gives us one more telling of “the world treating the dead better than the living”, and so, in her Forward, she informs us that she is attempting to give us the true voices of all poor and oppressed.

I do recommend reading this book of history, as a great help in gaining still one more glimpse and view of the complicated, and not always altruistic, history of our planet.

You can obtain this book on

Jeannine Perez owns El Caballo Blanco bookstore in Loreto.

She  welcomes all comments.