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Colombia: A Brutal History

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Colombia has scarcely known one day of peace since its inception. From the time of the Spanish conquistadors up to its recent bloody and brutal elections, the Colombian people have endured immense suffering. The history of this nation is one of the world’s most urgent political narratives – a story of violent drug cartels, foreign interference, corporate exploitation, para Colombia has scarcely known one day of peace since its inception. From the time of the Spanish conquistadors up to its recent bloody and brutal elections, the Colombian people have endured immense suffering. The history of this nation is one of the world’s most urgent political narratives – a story of violent drug cartels, foreign interference, corporate exploitation, paramilitary death squads and civil war – yet it has remained chronically under-told. While such a catalogue of misery would be tragic in the case of any country, it is all the more so in light of Colombia’s great potential as the fifth-largest economy in Latin America. In writing this searing and insightful report, Simons does justice to people whose verve and spirit, though pushed to extremes, remain unbroken. Geoff Simons has written extensively on world politics. In addition to the acclaimed Targeting Iraq (2002) and Future Iraq (2003) – both published by Saqi Books – he is the author of many other books including Libya: The Struggle for Survival; Saudi Arabia: The Shape of a Client Feudalism and The Scourging of Iraq: Sanctions, Law and Natural Justice. His books have been translated into many languages.


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Colombia has scarcely known one day of peace since its inception. From the time of the Spanish conquistadors up to its recent bloody and brutal elections, the Colombian people have endured immense suffering. The history of this nation is one of the world’s most urgent political narratives – a story of violent drug cartels, foreign interference, corporate exploitation, para Colombia has scarcely known one day of peace since its inception. From the time of the Spanish conquistadors up to its recent bloody and brutal elections, the Colombian people have endured immense suffering. The history of this nation is one of the world’s most urgent political narratives – a story of violent drug cartels, foreign interference, corporate exploitation, paramilitary death squads and civil war – yet it has remained chronically under-told. While such a catalogue of misery would be tragic in the case of any country, it is all the more so in light of Colombia’s great potential as the fifth-largest economy in Latin America. In writing this searing and insightful report, Simons does justice to people whose verve and spirit, though pushed to extremes, remain unbroken. Geoff Simons has written extensively on world politics. In addition to the acclaimed Targeting Iraq (2002) and Future Iraq (2003) – both published by Saqi Books – he is the author of many other books including Libya: The Struggle for Survival; Saudi Arabia: The Shape of a Client Feudalism and The Scourging of Iraq: Sanctions, Law and Natural Justice. His books have been translated into many languages.

29 review for Colombia: A Brutal History

  1. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    I have a special place in my heart for historians that write about the history of countries and societies in Latin America. It is daunting task detailing and making sense of the complex cultural,racial, socioeconomic, political, and environmental factors that converge to make modern day Latin American countries. That being said, I have mixed feelings about this book. The first half was far superior to the second in both content and organization. The first half was easier to read and followed the I have a special place in my heart for historians that write about the history of countries and societies in Latin America. It is daunting task detailing and making sense of the complex cultural,racial, socioeconomic, political, and environmental factors that converge to make modern day Latin American countries. That being said, I have mixed feelings about this book. The first half was far superior to the second in both content and organization. The first half was easier to read and followed the chronological flow of events in Columbian- detailing the Panama succession, la violencia, and other significant movements in Columbian poltical and social history, especially highlighting its relationshp with the United States. In the last 100 pages or so the order becomes much more scattered and harder to follower, the arguments more repetitive, and the examples much less dense. The author makes his bias very well known, and it works for him to do so, but he is lacking material examples to back up his viewpoints. For instance, he often cites US aid going to help buffer US corportate interest, but lacks and concrete examples of organizations or companies in which this is happening. (And we know the examples are out there) The only clear example he gives of this US business interest relationship is with the United Fruit Company in the 1930s. His last 100 pages becomes reduntant in its exclamation at U.S. military aid and its relationship to the paramilitary death squads, the failure of peace talks with the FARC and ELN, and the Vietnamization of Columbia by the U.S. military involvement. In exchange for this banter, a more clear look into the objectives and context of these movements would have been better suited. One note though, the last 15 pages were notably better than the second half of the book- together with the first half demonstrates the author has a talent for conveying the story of Columbia in the last 50 years, but he is not always consistent. A side note as well...I was suprised by how many grammatical errors I found. It was very unusual for an academic text.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Detailed history of the violence in Colombia from the 1980s to about 2007. Two problems with the book - 1. It abruptly ends just as the levels of violence would subside in the country (ie it needs an updated version to explain how this was achieved). and 2. it is overwhelmingly anti-American and anti-Bush. It takes away from the 'scholarly' aspect of this book with the writer taking personal swipes at Bush's intelligence and inserting his own view on Iraq. I wanted an objective book, and this bo Detailed history of the violence in Colombia from the 1980s to about 2007. Two problems with the book - 1. It abruptly ends just as the levels of violence would subside in the country (ie it needs an updated version to explain how this was achieved). and 2. it is overwhelmingly anti-American and anti-Bush. It takes away from the 'scholarly' aspect of this book with the writer taking personal swipes at Bush's intelligence and inserting his own view on Iraq. I wanted an objective book, and this book isn't it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Giovanni Forero

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bas Van Zomeren

  5. 5 out of 5

    Wesley Gerrard

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hermann

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marvey

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chelli

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eric

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christian Morse

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alvaro Sanchez

  12. 4 out of 5

    SoleilFox

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jose Laverde

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jason Maynard

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lucas

  16. 4 out of 5

    Iris Iris

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cristina

  19. 4 out of 5

    Saqi Books

  20. 4 out of 5

    Riss McGuire

  21. 4 out of 5

    Purpleduck

  22. 5 out of 5

    Desmond

  23. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Cooley

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ruben Barrientos

  25. 5 out of 5

    Salo

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ramon

  27. 5 out of 5

    Wikimedia Italia

  28. 5 out of 5

    Angel Vhd

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Maher

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