Monday, January 11, 2016

Open Veins of Latin America, by Eduardo Galleano

I did not know that James Tate had died, but I did know that Eduardo Galleano died in 2015. Galleano was one of the greatest Latin American journalists, scholars, man of letters, historians, and general amazing dude.  He is know as the world's foremost scholar of football (soccer for us).

While traveling through Central America in 1987 (chronicled in my memoir, Falling South), I carried three books with me. The massive, hardcover thesaurus that still sits by my writing chair, the Central America on a Shoestring guidebook, and Open Veins of Latin America. 

A book that the author even admitted was somewhat limited by the lack of sophistication of his understanding of political economics at the time, the book still remains perhaps the most stunning critique of the history of colonialism and neo-colonialism in Latin America. The powerful metaphor of an open vein (Latin America) which is continuously bled (by the US) remains an evocative, powerful, and relevant reminder of our history. 

It is a book that transformed my worldview; it was most responsible for my finishing my B.A concentration in Central American studies, and partially led me to a master of social work; the profession I had hoped would help me learn to be part of meaningful social change.

I have since read just about everything Galleano has written. Including the stunning Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone, a poetic history of humanity told through short narratives and vignettes.

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