Simón Bolívar (Simon Bolivar)


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A Life

John Lynch

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Simón Bolívar was a revolutionary who freed six countries, an intellectual who argued the principles of national liberation, and a general who fought a cruel colonial war. His life, passions, battles, and great victories became embedded in Spanish American culture almost as soon as they happened. This is the first major English-language biography of “The Liberator” in half a century. John Lynch draws on extensive research on the man and his era to tell Bolívar’s story, to understand his life in the context of his own society and times, and to explore his remarkable and enduring legacy.

The book illuminates the inner world of Bolívar, the dynamics of his leadership, his power to command, and his modes of ruling the diverse peoples of Spanish America. The key to his greatness, Lynch concludes, was supreme will power and an ability to inspire people to follow him beyond their immediate interests, in some cases through years of unremitting struggle. Encompassing Bolívar’s entire life and his many accomplishments, this is the definitive account of a towering figure in the history of the Western hemisphere.  

John Lynch is emeritus professor of Latin American history and former director of the Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London.

“The moment has come for a new, English-language biography of Bolívar; it is difficult to think of an historian better qualified for this task than John Lynch.”—Anthony McFarlane, University of Warwick

"Bolívar is often referred to as the George Washington of South America, but that designation can be considered somewhat of a slight, for Bolívar was an original, not an imitator, a singular man who understood the cultural, historical and physical differences between liberating the Spanish colonies of South America. This definitive biography, based on fresh and copious research, achieves a complete picture of Bolívar's thinking, actions, and impact."—Booklist

“Lynch’s new biography . . . is impeccably researched, uncommonly honest, and genuinely balanced, and also very well written.”—Alvaro Vargas Llosa, New Republic

"Lynch is a leading expert on the independence movements of the early nineteenth-century and their aftermath. . . . His approach is calm and judicious, his prose style measured and accessible. . . . The best biography to date of 'the Liberator.'"—J.H. Elliott, New York Review of Books

“John Lynch is extremely sympathetic to Bolívar [and examines] Hugo Chávez’s populism…the latest reincarnation of a Bolívarian myth that bears little resemblance to its object's ideals – and, Lynch suggests, it will not be the last.” - Filipe Ribeiro de Meneses, Irish Times

“[A] readable and up-to-date life, which will be the first resort of the curious for some time to come.” - Economist

"[A] masterly new biography of Bolívar is the first in English in half a century . . . bringing together years of scholarship and newly uncovered documents. And no one is better placed to update the story of Bolívar's life than Lynch. . . . Lynch's narrative, written with a historian's eye for accuracy and an admirer's sensitivity, lends coherence to Bolívar's tumultuous life. The Liberator's enormous contributions to the revolution—strategic, political and intellectual—come through clearly."—Noam Lupu, San Francisco Chronicle

"The first major English biography of Bolívar in fifty years parses the complex history of the Venezuelan aristocrat who liberated six South American countries from Spanish rule."—New Yorker

“Given the difficulty of separating man from myth, this soberly objective, well-researched biography is welcome. Professor Lynch has devoted much of his career as a Latin Americanist historian to the study of the independence wars… It is fortunate that he has now chosen to bring it to bear on a biography which is both professional and readable. … In all its complexity John Lynch’s impressive, objective scholarship is an invaluable antidotes to previous historians’ and politicians’ attempts to mould Bolívar to their particular ends.” - David Gallagher, Times Literary Supplement

“John Lynch’s handsome and scholarly new biography of the Liberator, the first for over half a century, makes good use of recent archival work and is particularly informative on the tormented question of race. [It] offers a captivating portrait…well annotated…and mainly even-handed… Lynch’s book represents an undoubted advance on that of his predecessors.” - Tariq Ali, New Left Review

"[Lynch] succeeds in this readable and up-to-date life, which will be the first resort of the curious for some time to come."—The Economist

“This book belongs on every serious Hispanic’s bookshelf. . . . It is for folks who prefer to get their history—and in its most thorough and updated form—from reputable and impartial scholars. . . . Get it and commit to a disciplined read. Take notes. Feel free to mark this tome up with a pen. Dig into the life of Latin America’s closest equivalent to George Washington. Don’t wait for the movie version.”—Victor Cruz-Lugo, Hispanic

"...expertly researched and elegantly written..."---The Oldie

'This, the first major study of Bolivar in English for 50 years, is, arguably, the definitive account of the life and legacy of El Libertador. John Lynch brilliantly analyses Bolivar's ideas and ideals -- liberty and equality -- as well as the realism of the revolutionary on social reform and his efforts to build a post-colonial indepedent state.'  - David Sinclair, Tribune

"The most successful one-volume account of Bolivar's life to date. . . . We are indebted to Lynch for initiating a serious re-examination of Bolivar and his times."—Judith Ewell, American Historical Review

"Lynch crafts a story that is captivating, and details of Bolivar's life are successfully interwoven into the larger narrative framework. . . . An essential biography of the Liberator's life that is accessible to a wide audience. . . . Considering the possibility that Lynch's work will be the first in a long line of studies on independence figures, it will be a tough act to follow."—Jesse Kingston, Itinerario

"It is a pleasure to report that this new biography of South America's greatest historical figure, written by the dean of British Latin Americanists, significantly updates and adds to the literature and should supersede its predecessors. This mature, warm, and accessible work is obviously the fruit of many years of reflections during Lynch's distinguished career."—Timothy E. Anna, Hispanic American Historical Review

Selected as a 2007 AAUP University Press Book for Public and Secondary School Libraries.
ISBN: 9780300126044
Publication Date: July 5, 2007
384 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
16 b/w illus.
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