Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Books about Colombia

A while ago my Dad was asking me about a book on Colombia, and I (Nils) realized that he might not be the only one interested in reading about Colombia. Here are some books about Colombia I've read or had recommended to me; if you have other suggestions let me know.

More Terrible than Death: Massacres, Drugs, and America's War in Colombia by Robin Kirk.
A good overview of the Colombian conflict, but because the focus is on political violence, I think it makes the conflict in Colombia seem more intensely violent than it really is. Mom, please don't read this book.

The Profits of Extermination: Big Mining in Colombia by Francisco Ramirez Cuellar.
Michele is reading this book, which uncovers the way foreign corporations have manipulated the law and worked hand in hand with right-wing death squads and the US and Colombian government to ensure profits at the cost of the rights and lives of workers, peasants and miners. Ramirez Cuellar is president of the Colombian mining union Sintraminercol, and has been a speaker for CPT past delegations.
This book is especially relevant to CPT's work in the Sur de Bolivar, where small-scale gold miners are being pressured to displace from their land at the same time that multinational mining companies are moving into the region.

Killing Pablo: the Hunt for Pablo Escobar by Mark Bowden.
This book charts the rise and fall of Colombian drugs baron Pablo Escobar, exposing the massive operation by covert US Special Forces and intelligence services to hunt down and assassinate him in 1993.

The Open Veins of Latin America: five centuries of the Pillage of a Continent by Eduardo Galeano
I am currently reading this analysis of the effects and causes of capitalist underdevelopment in Latin America. It was written in 1973, so it's a little dated, but Galeano is an engaging writer and an excellent analyst, and the dynamics of underdevelopment he describes are even more evident today. He's written some more recent books too, such as Upside Down (2001).

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez is considered one of this century's greatest authors (he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982), and this tale of life in a small Colombian town is seen as his greatest work. How can you go wrong?

The Dark Bride by Laura Restrepo
Restrepo is one of Colombia's most acclaimed contemporary writers, and this book is set in the oilfields and slums of a fictional town modeled on Barrancabermeja, where we're living this year. I loved this one, and her other books are also supposed to be excellent.

Read one. Read them all. Propose them to your book club. Happy reading!

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