|Born in Blood and Fire: Latin American Voices, edited by John Charles Chasteen, 2011.|
John Charles Chasteen edited Born in Blood and Fire: Latin American Voices, as a companion volume to his history of Latin America, and it’s full of fascinating primary sources. (I reviewed Chasteen’s book Born in Blood and Fire here.) I will quickly admit that I don’t know as much as I should about the history of Latin America, and Born in Blood and Fire: Latin American Voices gave me a taste of the region’s complex history and struggles through colonialism and independence.
Chasteen has chosen a variety of sources; and along with the non-fiction that you might expect to find in such a book, he also includes a good helping of fiction, which gives the reader a feel for the places the authors are describing. My favorite fiction selection was from The Stock Market, an 1891 novel by Julian Martel. It’s about real estate speculation in Buenos Aires, and Martel’s sharp eye for social status indicators reminded me of Tom Wolfe.
An anthology like this one inevitably has its limitations, as it isn’t the smoothest reading experience to be constantly switching authors and topics every few pages. However, for those interested in Latin American history, it pairs well with Chasteen’s narrative history.