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Excessively European, refreshingly European, not as European as it looks, struggling to overcome a delusion that it is European. Argentina—in all its complexity—has often been obscured by variations of the "like Europe and not like the rest of Latin America" cliché. The Argentina Reader deliberately breaks from that viewpoint. This essential introduction to Argentina’s his Excessively European, refreshingly European, not as European as it looks, struggling to overcome a delusion that it is European. Argentina—in all its complexity—has often been obscured by variations of the "like Europe and not like the rest of Latin America" cliché. The Argentina Reader deliberately breaks from that viewpoint. This essential introduction to Argentina’s history, culture, and society provides a richer, more comprehensive look at one of the most paradoxical of Latin American nations: a nation that used to be among the richest in the world, with the largest middle class in Latin America, yet one that entered the twenty-first century with its economy in shambles and its citizenry seething with frustration. This diverse collection brings together songs, articles, comic strips, scholarly essays, poems, and short stories. Most pieces are by Argentines. More than forty of the texts have never before appeared in English. The Argentina Reader contains photographs from Argentina’s National Archives and images of artwork by some of the country’s most talented painters and sculptors. Many selections deal with the history of indigenous Argentines, workers, women, blacks, and other groups often ignored in descriptions of the country. At the same time, the book includes excerpts by or about such major political figures as José de San Martín and Juan Perón. Pieces from literary and social figures virtually unknown in the United States appear alongside those by more well-known writers such as Jorge Luis Borges, Ricardo Piglia, and Julio Cortázar. The Argentina Reader covers the Spanish colonial regime; the years of nation building following Argentina’s independence from Spain in 1810; and the sweeping progress of economic growth and cultural change that made Argentina, by the turn of the twentieth century, the most modern country in Latin America. The bulk of the collection focuses on the twentieth century: on the popular movements that enabled Peronism and the revolutionary dreams of the 1960s and 1970s; on the dictatorship from 1976 to 1983 and the accompanying culture of terror and resistance; and, finally, on the contradictory and disconcerting tendencies unleashed by the principles of neoliberalism and the new global economy. The book also includes a list of suggestions for further reading. The Argentina Reader is an invaluable resource for those interested in learning about Argentine history and culture, whether in the classroom or in preparation for travel in Argentina.


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Excessively European, refreshingly European, not as European as it looks, struggling to overcome a delusion that it is European. Argentina—in all its complexity—has often been obscured by variations of the "like Europe and not like the rest of Latin America" cliché. The Argentina Reader deliberately breaks from that viewpoint. This essential introduction to Argentina’s his Excessively European, refreshingly European, not as European as it looks, struggling to overcome a delusion that it is European. Argentina—in all its complexity—has often been obscured by variations of the "like Europe and not like the rest of Latin America" cliché. The Argentina Reader deliberately breaks from that viewpoint. This essential introduction to Argentina’s history, culture, and society provides a richer, more comprehensive look at one of the most paradoxical of Latin American nations: a nation that used to be among the richest in the world, with the largest middle class in Latin America, yet one that entered the twenty-first century with its economy in shambles and its citizenry seething with frustration. This diverse collection brings together songs, articles, comic strips, scholarly essays, poems, and short stories. Most pieces are by Argentines. More than forty of the texts have never before appeared in English. The Argentina Reader contains photographs from Argentina’s National Archives and images of artwork by some of the country’s most talented painters and sculptors. Many selections deal with the history of indigenous Argentines, workers, women, blacks, and other groups often ignored in descriptions of the country. At the same time, the book includes excerpts by or about such major political figures as José de San Martín and Juan Perón. Pieces from literary and social figures virtually unknown in the United States appear alongside those by more well-known writers such as Jorge Luis Borges, Ricardo Piglia, and Julio Cortázar. The Argentina Reader covers the Spanish colonial regime; the years of nation building following Argentina’s independence from Spain in 1810; and the sweeping progress of economic growth and cultural change that made Argentina, by the turn of the twentieth century, the most modern country in Latin America. The bulk of the collection focuses on the twentieth century: on the popular movements that enabled Peronism and the revolutionary dreams of the 1960s and 1970s; on the dictatorship from 1976 to 1983 and the accompanying culture of terror and resistance; and, finally, on the contradictory and disconcerting tendencies unleashed by the principles of neoliberalism and the new global economy. The book also includes a list of suggestions for further reading. The Argentina Reader is an invaluable resource for those interested in learning about Argentine history and culture, whether in the classroom or in preparation for travel in Argentina.

30 review for The Argentina Reader: History, Culture, Politics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Andreea

    After finishing reading the book I actually got stuck in the “Suggestions for Further Reading” section trying to decide what to add to my reading list. I decided to add “Nunca Mas: The Report of the Argentine National Commission on the Disappeared” and increased the priority of Borges and Cortazar. I will still keep my bookmark where it is and probably add some more books. This is not an easy book to read. As stated by other reviewers it can be read from front to back or one can choose chapters t After finishing reading the book I actually got stuck in the “Suggestions for Further Reading” section trying to decide what to add to my reading list. I decided to add “Nunca Mas: The Report of the Argentine National Commission on the Disappeared” and increased the priority of Borges and Cortazar. I will still keep my bookmark where it is and probably add some more books. This is not an easy book to read. As stated by other reviewers it can be read from front to back or one can choose chapters that he/she considers interesting. It feels like reading material for a history course, but that is not a negative aspect, as I am a big fan of history courses. It is organized as a historically coherent material, but it does not read as a story. I think it is a good starting point for any reader interested in the topic of Argentinian history and society, but without any prior knowledge. It tries to go through Argentina’s history in chronological order making use of different sources (poems, newspaper articles, essay, literary excerpts). A list of my favourite topics is: Peronism, the birth of tango, the development of feminism in the Argentinian society, the mothers of Plaza de Mayo and the “desaparecidos”, Carlos Menem, the relationship between soccer and masculinity.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Humza

    “Argentina Reader” is an incredibly unique work about a country that truly demands such eclecticism. This novel approach can be summarized in one of the book’s opening lines: “Although, strictly speaking, our book does not belong to the field of history, its multi layered image of Argentina’s past and present does stress Benjamin’s point by stressing the fact that a song, a tango step, or a short story can be as revealing as an official speech or a sociological analysis”. The authors have includ “Argentina Reader” is an incredibly unique work about a country that truly demands such eclecticism. This novel approach can be summarized in one of the book’s opening lines: “Although, strictly speaking, our book does not belong to the field of history, its multi layered image of Argentina’s past and present does stress Benjamin’s point by stressing the fact that a song, a tango step, or a short story can be as revealing as an official speech or a sociological analysis”. The authors have included everything from Mafalda comic strips and paintings to journalistic reports and constitutional excerpts. By patching these unique perspectives together around a central timeline starting at ancient times and ending in modern day, the result is not a history in the traditional, linear sense. Rather what is created is a multi dimensional story of a people and country. Similar to the metaphor of the labyrinth that Argentina’s native son Borges so often employs, these sources act as torturous and contradictory tributaries that come together to form a unique watershed of sorts that is a product of multiple cultures, philosophies, and competing narratives. Having read this book before, during, and after a trip to Argentina significantly enriched that experience and afforded the opportunity to see ideas from the text manifested in real life. Just as multiple authors from different time periods included in “Argentina Reader” gave their competing takes on historical protests like Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo, porteño cab drivers during our trip echoed that disagreement over current weekly “Manifestaciones” in Buenos Aires. Some lauded the protests as expressions of freedom while some referred to them as “perros ladrando ruidosamente” or dogs barking loudly (implying that the rest of population doesn’t agree with their disproportionately loud/visible political objections). The vast gaps between rich and poor as described in “We Are All Cursed” by Javier Auyero were on full display when traveling within Buenos Aires from glitzy Patio Bullrich with designer boutiques to lively but impoverished La Boca. Just as Julio Cortazar’s “House Taken Over” belied Argentina’s historical fear of “the other”, patriotic banners flew in plazas all over Buenos Aires promoting a strong national patriotism. As stated in the introduction, “Argentina Reader” is a concerted effort to include viewpoints that have otherwise been either appropriated (Gauchos) or exterminated/suppressed (Natives and slum dwellers). However, the one downfall of this otherwise interesting work is the inclusion of far too many primary sources such as full constitutional sections and dry legal documents. Although valuable in their own right, in a work such as this they would have been better served as references rather than included in their entirety. Overall, this book gives a comprehensive and unique insight to a bizarre yet beautiful place. As the authors state in the foreword, it was their hope that the book would serve as “a basic map that will evolve into a magnificent labyrinth promising at every turn, not frustration, but a richer view of Argentina and its people.”

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Good, but dense. Better material for a semester-long course on Argentina than a month long learn-before-you-travel. But I definitely come away with a better idea of the history and politics of the country, which I think will help me to better appreciate what I'm seeing and experiencing when I visit. Good, but dense. Better material for a semester-long course on Argentina than a month long learn-before-you-travel. But I definitely come away with a better idea of the history and politics of the country, which I think will help me to better appreciate what I'm seeing and experiencing when I visit.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Peter S

    This book takes the reader from early Amerindian history through Spanish imperialism, 19th century independence, booming early 20th century, Peronism, military dictatorships all the way through the late 1990s. Each section has a few pages of introduction followed by several primary sources. Each primary source also has an introduction. Sometimes the primary sources are not very readable because they were written 200 years ago and then translated into English. Sometimes, however, they are really This book takes the reader from early Amerindian history through Spanish imperialism, 19th century independence, booming early 20th century, Peronism, military dictatorships all the way through the late 1990s. Each section has a few pages of introduction followed by several primary sources. Each primary source also has an introduction. Sometimes the primary sources are not very readable because they were written 200 years ago and then translated into English. Sometimes, however, they are really great (like the Cortazar short story). The book focuses on the development of Argentinian culture and all of its influences alongside the political sphere. Each is heavily influenced by the other. If you are you looking for an introduction to Argentinian history, this is not a bad place to start. The book challenges the idea that Argentina is practically a European South American country and demonstrates that it is really more like its neighbors than it'd like to admit. Argentina is an enigma, and learning a little bit more about it was really interesting. 3/5 because about 50% of the primary source documents were not what I wanted.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cai Luna Luna

    A solid introduction to Argentina’s history, but it lacked a neat structure. The book progressed reasonably through time, but each section did not have specific dates, one had to figure out which decade we were in by reading on, making referring back to a specific era very difficult and convoluted. The sections themselves contain a good mix of literature, but they do not work chronologically so often you will read one piece and then the one after comes from 5 years before, which is not obvious b A solid introduction to Argentina’s history, but it lacked a neat structure. The book progressed reasonably through time, but each section did not have specific dates, one had to figure out which decade we were in by reading on, making referring back to a specific era very difficult and convoluted. The sections themselves contain a good mix of literature, but they do not work chronologically so often you will read one piece and then the one after comes from 5 years before, which is not obvious because there aren’t dates given in these subsections. Overall, I learned a lot but as a history book, it could use a second edition.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    I recently got the urge to learn more about my father’s home country, and this was a great way to start. With each individual chapter being on a different subject, but still chronological, it is easy to pick up and read pieces you are interested in. If you are interested in what makes Argentina the country that it is today in a holistic way, this book is a great start.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Larry White

    Took me a long time to get through, but that speaks to the large amount of information contained. A great collection of writings. With excellent context provided, that gives the reader a great sense of the history of Argentina. At the end there are several pages with suggestions for further reading, and I fully intend to explore further.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    A well-crafted mosaic of essays, stories and poems that steps the reader through Argentinian history. The introductory essays before each section are excellent at providing an overview of an historical era and the context for the selections from that period. Within each section there were always a piece or two that brought me into the lives of Argentinians--that brought history to life.

  9. 4 out of 5

    AskHistorians

    These are a series of country studies that provide a valuable overview of various Latin American countries. They use both primary and secondary sources by eyewitnesses and important scholars respectively to illuminate key periods of each country’s history. They also include a trove of images, maps, and fine art. Each volume focuses on a single country. Currently, Duke has published readers about the Dominican Republic, Chile, Paraguay, Guatemala, Ecuador, Perú, Costa Rica, Cuba, México, Argentin These are a series of country studies that provide a valuable overview of various Latin American countries. They use both primary and secondary sources by eyewitnesses and important scholars respectively to illuminate key periods of each country’s history. They also include a trove of images, maps, and fine art. Each volume focuses on a single country. Currently, Duke has published readers about the Dominican Republic, Chile, Paraguay, Guatemala, Ecuador, Perú, Costa Rica, Cuba, México, Argentina, and Brazil

  10. 4 out of 5

    M. Snelten

    While I have a research purpose for reading The Argentina Reader, I find this non-fiction book a creative accumulation of short essays that nicely highlights Argentine history, culture, and politics--like the title promises. Furthermore, I appreciate the chronological order of the essays, which puts things in perspective.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ted

    This is a series of essays to introduce you to Argentina. If roughly follows a historical path and takes you right up to the past few years. Since I was traveling in Argentina at the time it was wonderful background.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    An anthology of brief original texts, set in chronological order, in an attempt to convey the four-dimensionality of Argentina.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Christine Moser

    Brilliant compilation of texts regarding Argentina, includes almost every possible topic of consequence (i.e. also football)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    no particularly engaging, but filled some of the knowledge void.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jeannine

    great big book of small stories and poems about Argentina or writen by Argentinians. Great for quick reads.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bryanna Plog

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Effron

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ayelen C

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ann

  20. 4 out of 5

    James Johnson

  21. 4 out of 5

    Magenta

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joe

  23. 4 out of 5

    Aceso Under Glass

  24. 4 out of 5

    Will A

  25. 5 out of 5

    Struan_de

  26. 5 out of 5

    Thinkinggood

  27. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Yelton

  28. 5 out of 5

    Victor Radulescu

  29. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kate

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