Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin Americas Soul


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It was Guatemala which convinced him of the necessity for armed struggle and for taking the initiative against imperialism'' pag This was not the first, nor the last, time that American actions abroad led to radicalisation. Undue influence of the rich. The undue influence of the rich and powerful poses a special challenge to democracy in egregiously unequal societies'' page The rise of the outsider. People without much political or governing experience are propelled to center stage. Their personal fame and distance from the usual ruling elites can trump any lack of experience or know-how. Al this makes Forgotten Continent a strangely relevant book, 10 years after it was first published.

The subtitle, ''the battle for Latin America's soul'', refers to the threat that populism poses to the incipient and fragile democracies of Latin America. Reid, a journalist who works for The Economist, takes the side of those sometimes flawed democracies. Reid's recipe for development is a mix of democracy and capitalism. He occasionally goes too far in this prescription: Key points of the Washington consensus according to Reid: Reform the role of the state, promote the role of the markets: To be fair, Reid does mention one important shortcoming of the Washington Consensus: Reid also gives several explanations for the frequent failures in economic development and the consolidation of democracy in Latin America, and rightly points out that the answer lies in an interplay between several of the following factors: In short, capitalism and foreigners are to blame for Latin American misfortunes.

The rise of the Asian Tigers and later China has largely disproved this theory. Unfortunately, dependency theory led to counterproductive attitudes: What has often been missing in Latin America is a political and economic system in which law, property rights and enforceable contracts underpin economic development. What matters is that decisions by the state should be predictable, something that has not always been the case in many Latin American countries. The circumstances in which Latin America was colonised and became independent. Climate, Obstacles to transport.

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Finally, Reid argues that Asian countries managed to grow and develop in the second half of the 20th century because they designed their economies to be export-oriented. Latin America deliberately turned away from the world economy just as international trade began its long post-war boom'' page Again, this disproved the dependency theory. Latin America's choice for protectionism and industrialisation as a substitute for imports resulted in corruption, weak industries and companies, and high prices for consumers.

Forgotten Continent is a very dense book, that covers a lot of ground. Although written more than 10 years ago, even now in many of its observations are still relevant, and not only for Latin America. Feb 24, Maria rated it liked it Shelves: Introduction to Latin America, everything you should have learned in school, but didn't because we don't think that Latin America is as important as the rest of the world.

Reid takes the average US Citizen thru the political and economical history of Latin America with an emphasis on the last 5 decades. Why I picked up this book: It's on the US Army recommended reading list and I thought that I have a better grasp of Latin America than the average American thanks to 4 years of Spanish in school. W Introduction to Latin America, everything you should have learned in school, but didn't because we don't think that Latin America is as important as the rest of the world. Why I finished it: Reid was a reporter for the Economist, so he does focus on the economic side of development and its good and bad consequences.

And I know less than I thought I did. This is a fantastic book that contains a lot of the history of Latin America and the politics. It's fantastically informative and points out a lot of the issues that Latin America has. The author discusses a lot of the issues between the United States and Latin America and why they have been so troublesome.

Sep 18, Nicki Fruth rated it really liked it. Gotta love Michael Reid. Mar 26, Eric rated it really liked it. A review at Amazon by Agustin Guerrero expresses best for me a great reason for reading the book. He claims to be and I've no reason to doubt it a Latin American, and laments that the best books about his homeland are written by outsiders. I had an Austrian cousin who had much the same thing to say when I asked him one time about the best of histories written about Austria. I was struck by Bolivar's self-penned epitaph, written in a letter to the new president of Ecuador as he Bolivar approac A review at Amazon by Agustin Guerrero expresses best for me a great reason for reading the book.

I was struck by Bolivar's self-penned epitaph, written in a letter to the new president of Ecuador as he Bolivar approached death, as Reid uses it to write of the possibilities, and trials, for unity. Perhaps sour southern neighbors are less forgotten than Reid's title would have us think. Apr 07, Pete rated it really liked it. This is a very good book by a journalist for The Economist who has been covering the continent for years. One of the reasons I bought it was that I am guilty of exactly what the author says. I follow all manner of world affairs but have mostly forgotten about Latin America.

This book explains the history of This is a very good book by a journalist for The Economist who has been covering the continent for years. This book explains the history of the region, the roots of populism, and the corporatist economies that have afflicted it for so long. It does so in the readable style of a current affairs publication as opposed to an academic text. Oct 19, Fernando Hoces de la Guardia rated it really liked it. The book was a novel attempt to provide an overarching context to modern Latin America.

For that alone, given the scarcity of similar efforts, it's a highly valuable contribution. On the down side, I happen to know a fair amount of Chilean history and contemporary economics and I found the authors characterization of Chile as the exemplary case quite inaccurate. Chile has the worst income distribution of the region Brazil is similar but its ineq is more a north-south problem and that inequalit The book was a novel attempt to provide an overarching context to modern Latin America.

Book Review: Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America’s Soul

Chile has the worst income distribution of the region Brazil is similar but its ineq is more a north-south problem and that inequality comes at a high price. Maybe it wasn't as clear in publication year , but today the social revolt in Chile it appears to become the norm and its use as poster child of prosperity is questionable.

My disappointment with the characterization of Chile makes me hesitant to trust the author's description of other countries. I still highly recommend the book as one of the very few that tries to explain Latin America using data as oppose to novelistic narrative. Mar 23, Ian McHugh rated it really liked it. A great insight into Latin American politics and economic development - an absolute "must read" for anyone who is thinking of living, working, or doing business in this part of the world.

I didn't agree with all of Reid's analysis of the economic turmoil that has occasionally engulfed the "Forgotten Continent" but overall he paints an optimistic picture of Latin American growth in the 21st Century and I agree with him on that. Reid's analysis of Latin America's upward trajectory of growth, co A great insight into Latin American politics and economic development - an absolute "must read" for anyone who is thinking of living, working, or doing business in this part of the world.

Reid's analysis of Latin America's upward trajectory of growth, coupled with governmental stability, is something he also frequently reinforces and updates in his regular reporting for the Economist magazine. Jul 25, John rated it liked it. Reid has done a thorough and detailed job researching his historical survey of Central and South America. While clearly rooted in the historical record, there is a very heavy emphasis on economic development.

Perhaps this should not be a shock considering Reid's current employer is The Economist.

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At times, the material was a bit dense and difficult to wade through. There is also a tendency for Reid to be a champion for democratic and economic reform. However, if you are seriously interested in Reid has done a thorough and detailed job researching his historical survey of Central and South America. However, if you are seriously interested in Latin America, this is a good primmer. I would recommend looking else where if you are interested in a more sociological perspective.

Sep 22, Kyle Worlitz rated it really liked it Shelves: Reid does a very good job providing a concise summary of Latin America's internal politics since the Wars of Independence. As a former reporter for the Economist, he does tend to lean a little transparently towards the Washington Consensus.

The leaning is almost hidden in the midst of so much centrist reporting, but it is detectable. There are several instances where military coups are glossed over, and barring of certain candidates from election justified. Despite the somewhat disturbing undert Reid does a very good job providing a concise summary of Latin America's internal politics since the Wars of Independence. Despite the somewhat disturbing undertones of a portion of the analysis, I still highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to get a cursory feel for the region's history and politics.

Aug 04, Daniel Simmons rated it liked it.

Seven years after its publication, this book feels a bit dated and I would love to see new addenda from this author about recent developments in Brazil, the effect of the global financial crisis on Latin America generally, and the aftermath of Chavez's death in Venezuela. But it would be churlish of course to complain about what is not here. What IS here is a somewhat dry but very informative overview of political and economic trends in Central and South America, as well as a reasoned defense of Seven years after its publication, this book feels a bit dated and I would love to see new addenda from this author about recent developments in Brazil, the effect of the global financial crisis on Latin America generally, and the aftermath of Chavez's death in Venezuela.

What IS here is a somewhat dry but very informative overview of political and economic trends in Central and South America, as well as a reasoned defense of the so-called "Washington Consensus" which has been much pilloried in this region.

Recommended for academics, economists, and nerdy travelers. I was looking for an introduction to economy, history and politics of Latin America and this book is a good place to start.


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Written by an Economist reporter, this book is well researched and nicely structured. The analysis of the impact the Washington Consensus has had in the region is particularly interesting. The rise of populism is also well covered. The author does not hide his doubts about the value of the Bolivarian alternative for the regions development.


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  • He also analyses the impact the U I was looking for an introduction to economy, history and politics of Latin America and this book is a good place to start. He also analyses the impact the US and Europe have had and continue to have in the region. Jun 17, Alicen rated it liked it.

    This book is written by the editor of The Economist's Latin America section and it shows. His prose is well-researched and covers a variety of different issues facing Latin America but isn't so mired in economic terms or complicated facts that it's hard to follow. I learned a lot from this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in this part of the world, which is so close to my heart.

    Dec 19, Preston rated it it was ok. I would actually rate this a 2. If I was rating this in terms of the quantity of information present I would give it a 5, but it is so overwhelming and jumps so often from topic to topic it is far too overwhelming to be confined to a single book. I felt like I was cramming for an exam seeing so many economic statistics and charts literally pie graphs and charts.

    Nov 28, Marc rated it really liked it. Insightful and balanced book. First half is excellent, second half drags for a couple chapters, before a couple great chapters, while the last chapter feels like odd ends just stuffed together. It reads mostly like an economist article. Although written in , holds up quite well and the analysis and arguments will likely remain relevant for some time. Apr 25, Alexa rated it liked it Shelves: I was originally reading this for my dissertation next year, however it really isn't too closely related to what I'm writing on and I'm really not all that engaged so I'm just going to DNF this.

    An interesting look at the history and development of Latin American societies but just not what I needed it for. Dec 29, Tim Tolka rated it liked it. In his effort to rescue sensible economic policy, Reid gives a bit too much berth to the U. His writing does not lack color and humor, but he treats his ideological opponents in a dismissive manner and risks distorting history in his attempt to set the record straight. Jan 05, Jennyb rated it liked it.

    A survey of South American countries, the impacts of post-colonialism, populism, political, economic and social development. The right-wing dictators in sunglasses are, thankfully, gone and in their place are centrist elected governments, some nominally left, others right, which are pragmatic, moderate and presiding over solid if unspectacular paces of development.

    Review: Forgotten Continent by Michael Reid | Books | The Guardian

    As you would expect from an author whose day job is editing the Americas section of the Economist, Reid is no fan of the Venezuelan president's self-styled socialist revolution. Not only that, but the president's expansionary economic policies are unsustainable folly. Consolidating it requires incremental reform, not regressive revolution. How do you put a value on the gleam in the eye of those who thank "mi presidente" for giving them dignity?

    Recent events in Venezuela, however, bolster Reid's thesis. The economy is warping.

    Reasons to be cheerful in America's backyard

    Imports of Hummers, whisky and iPhones soar while shops run short of milk, eggs and sugar. Utopian "socialist cities" are being built from scratch, while rubbish in the teeming barrios where most people live goes uncollected. Oil output is allegedly tumbling because the government raids the state oil company's revenues before they can be reinvested in rigs and infrastructure.

    This adds up to him being down, not out. With his disciples running Bolivia and Ecuador, his model could yet prevail in the Andes for years to come. Too often Latin America is used and misused by outsiders to score ideological points. The left blames its chronic underperformance on Washington bullying, from the Monroe doctrine to IMF-prescribed shock therapy.

    Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin Americas Soul Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin Americas Soul
    Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin Americas Soul Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin Americas Soul
    Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin Americas Soul Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin Americas Soul
    Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin Americas Soul Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin Americas Soul
    Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin Americas Soul Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin Americas Soul
    Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin Americas Soul Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin Americas Soul
    Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin Americas Soul Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin Americas Soul
    Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin Americas Soul Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin Americas Soul

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