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The History of Argentina [Paperback]

Daniel K. Lewis
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Oct. 15 2003 Palgrave Essential Histories Series
Argentina is a country of enormous potential and challenging problems. In recent decades, violence and military dictatorships have upset the political system, and economic instability has held in check efforts to develop the country's industries. Covering the entire sweep of Argentina's history from pre-Columbian times to 2001, the narrative outlines the connections between the colonial era and the 19th century and focuses closely on the last three decades of the twentieth century, during which Argentina dealt with the legacies of Peronism and of military dictatorship, as well as the challenges of establishing a stable democracy. Also included are a timeline of historic events in Argentina, biographical sketches of key people in its history, a glossary of terms, and a bibliographic essay of works in English for further study. All libraries should update their collection of Latin American histories with this work, which is ideal for students and travelers.

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Review

• Serves as an accessible reference work that overviews Argentina's history and recent events, with particular coverage of the rise of presidents Nicolás Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to dominance within the fractured Peronist movement

• Explores the domestic and international factors that shaped Argentina's economic boom and stagnation since 2001

• Addresses the resurgent debate surrounding the collective effort to seek justice for those who fell victim to the state-sponsored terrorism that occurred during the "Dirty War" of the 1970s

• Demonstrates how Argentina's history roughly parallels that of Australia, Canada, and the United States—all nations that are products of colonialism, immigration, and rapid economic growth

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

Female Argentinean president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was elected in 2007.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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3.0 out of 5 stars A to-the-point summary June 8 2010
Format:Paperback
It was a general interest in the economic history of Argentina as a counter-factual example to that of Canada encouraged me to shell out for this unfortunately short summary history.

Economically, the history of Argentina is an excellent natural experiment to test the influence of systems of political and economic organization on development. From a resource point of view, Argentina began the 20th century with every opportunity that was available to Canada, but ended it desperately behind. Years of dictatorial change, "rule of law" instability and personal fear were the culprits. But don't expect this type of top-down insight from the author; this is a purely sequential and fact-based history. It also contains several unfortunately unedited spelling, organizational and other (east vs. west, for example) mistakes.

If you're looking for a quick summary of Argentinian history focusing at first on economic and geopolitical change, and more recently (post WWII) on internal political change (with - from my point of a view - a huge missed opportunity for an analysis of monetary economics) this book does a good job. If you're looking to gain a real understanding of Argentinian history derived from thoughtful analysis of in-depth history, look elsewhere.

I enjoyed the book and would have bought it again with perfect foreknowledge. But it is no work of art.
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Amazon.com: 2.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History of a volatile society Aug. 24 2008
By Dr. Lee D. Carlson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As the author of this short book shows, perhaps without intending to, if there was any country in the history of the world that illustrates best the effects of narrow-sighted interest groups, economic turmoil, and governmental brutality, it has to be Argentina. The people of Argentina have had no respite in the last two hundred years from both the vicissitudes of the market place and the coercion of their governments. Just when things seem to be looking up in terms of both economic and social stability, some military coup or financial disaster erases the short-lived equilibrium of Argentine society. After finishing the book, one can't help but admire the stamina of the Argentine people, and one wonders what the future holds for this country that had its origins of course in the Spanish expeditions of the early sixteenth century.

Those readers, such as this reviewer, who are interested in the history of Argentina but don't have the time to read a major treatise on the subject will find this book helpful. The author gives a timeline of historical events at the beginning of the book, and some references are included for readers who want to move on to more detailed treatments. It would be difficult of course to verify the author's historical narrative without more in-depth study, so the contents of the book should be taken as tentative.

There are many interesting facts that are detailed by the author, particularly the role that the United States and the International Monetary Fund played in perturbing Argentine society. In addition, one can understand the effects of the two world wars on the Argentine economy, especially the role of the Marshall Plan, which almost decimated Argentina's beef industry. It also gives a more nuanced view of Evita Peron without the excess of veneration that is usually paid to this woman by Hollywood and the American press. And of course her husband's role in Argentine politics is still being felt today, despite its checkered history of violence and brutality. "Peronism" as the author calls it, was actually banned from participation in elections for quite some time, but this caused even more volatility for Argentine politics. The prevention of certain groups in the participation of governance seems to only increase their level of determination.

If there are any lessons to be learned from this book it is that attempts by governments to bring "social harmony" to the societies over which they rule are problematic and rarely succeed. Labor unions, governmental decrees, international money markets, and private business are all entangled with each other, and any strong events in one of these sectors has ramifications in the others. It has been difficult for all societies to realize this fact, and Argentina is even a more pronounced example. Economic decimation, or even the reflection of its possibility seems to encourage governmental interference, even though history is full of examples where this interference exacerbated the problem, sometimes, as was the case for Argentina, leading to extreme violence or even murder. The "Dirty War" that the author discusses in this book, which is correctly described as being state terrorism, is a dreadful example of how the Argentine government completely lost any notion of decency or restraint. Some of the individuals responsible for these actions have been brought to justice, but others that did are unfortunately still free. Hopefully, the citizens of Argentina will not forget these events, and never forgive the criminals who participated in them.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars All Names and Dates... Dec 25 2008
By History Buff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I was very disappointed in Mr. Lewis' recap of Argentinian history. It read much like a high school history text: with all the key dates and important political figures but very little context and no depth to keep the reader engaged. Dry in tone, nothing but the facts and not much to keep the reader engaged. Ugh!
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointment March 6 2014
By Peter P. Dobrowski - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was disappointed with the book. Its treatment of Argentina's history seemed superficial, no explanation for what was underlying the various events. Also, although there's a religious statue pictured on its cover it didn't elaborate on how the Catholic Church was part of Argentina's history
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