Eugene Robinson just won a Pulitzer, but like most commentators he doesn’t seem to have read the book, Open Veins of Latin America, by Eduardo Galeano, a copy of which Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez recently gave to Barack Obama. In today’s Washington Post, he writes, “Chávez’s gift of the book was meant to affront, not to enlighten, and I would have advised Obama to reciprocate in kind.”
Open Veins is a polemic, but it’s interesting history and not terribly controversial if you happen to live in Latin America. Here’s Time magazine’s nutshell review:
Galeano’s book is a well-researched historical account and, while it does include quotes by Karl Marx, the author’s left-leaning perspective does not rob the book of value. It’s perhaps overly dense with fact after fact after fact — the author doesn’t zoom out often — but the book still makes a convincing argument that Latin America was a victim of European and American exploitation. This is not a difficult case to make when you’re talking about colonialism. But with leftist leaders like Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales assuming power of 21st century Latin American governments, it’s important to understand how they think we got here and who they hold responsible.