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June 30, 2020


#Non-fiction Bolívar

by N@ncy

  • Author:  Marie Arana
  • Genre: biography
  • Title:  Bolivar: American Liberator
  • Published:  (2013)
  • Table of Contents: 18 chapters, 468
  • Timeline:  1783 – 1830
  • SettingSouth America
  • Trivia: M. Arana won the LA Times Book Award biography 2014.
  • List of Challenges 2020
  • Monthly reading plan
  • #20BooksOfSummer20



  1. Bolivar was compared to Napoleon or Julius Caesar.
  2. But Bolivar realized that he could unite South America
  3. …freed of Spanish rule, but could not unite the South Americans.
  4. He had to take drastic steps: Bolivar declared himself ‘dictator’
  5. …in August 1828 due to growing internal conflicts among his commanders.
  6. As Bolivar said: “No one achieves greatness with impunity:
  7. No one escapes the fangs of envy along the way”. (pg 406)
  8. There were several assassination attempts
  9. …thought to be instigated by his old friend, and commander F. Santander.
  10. Bolivar used psychological warfare, surprise,
  11. …deception and fear to defeat his enemies.
  12. But he could not defeat his last foe
  13. ….he succumbed to tubercleosis in 1830 at the age of 47 years old.



Strong point: Bolivar reads like a great novel!

Strong point: Epilogue: great summation with references to modern South America.

  1. This was not a boring biography.
  2. Marie Arana is first and foremost a
  3. talented writer and knows how to create
  4. ….a book that would capture the reader’s attention.
  5. She has succeeded in melting all the biographical facts
  6. …about the American Liberator into a unique mold.
  7. The result is a ‘bronze bell’ named ‘Bolivar’ whose
  8. …tremendous sound resonated across
  9. …the South American continent.
  10. #ExcellentRead

Last Thoughts:

  1. I was surprised that Bolivar read Voltaire, Locke,
  2. Montesquieu and his hero Rousseau instead of theorists of war:
  3. Prussian Von Clausewitz (1780-1831) or French Jomini (1779-1869).
  4. Bolivar was a child of The Enlightenment.
  5. The only way I can sum him is to refer to John Locke’s book
  6. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding,
  7. …page 220 where Locke discusses ‘power’.
  1. Bolivar saw that the countries in his beloved South America
  2. …were just spokes in a wheel all pointing to the hub, Spain.
  3. He felt that there was the possibility of making this simple idea change.
  4. And so we come to the idea that Locke explained as: ‘power’.
  5. Bolivar had this ‘power’:
  6. “thus we say, fire has a power to melt gold,
  7. …to destroy the consistency of its insensible parts and
  8. …consequently its hardness and make it fluid.” (Locke)


Twitter thoughts:

Bolivar: History of liberated South America …. is not for the fainthearted.
What a man…he could outride, outwit and outfight any enemy!

#SurgicalStrikes and countless stragagems later Bolivar is not afraid to take up the pen….
#ManInLove with Manuela…

#ReadMoreBiography Blood trickles down the roads, heads roll out from under the bushes. This is not magical realism… this is history!

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jun 30 2020

    I like this review format- useful, clear and structured.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jun 30 2020

      I love structure!
      My golden rule: brevity,homogeneity and impartiality.
      Thanks so much for retweet.


  2. Jun 30 2020

    Reblogged this on penwithlit and commented:
    Sounds like essential reading for understanding South America.


  3. Jul 5 2020

    He was also friends with Alexander Humboldt, who travelled through South America on hus scientific explorations.

    Liked by 1 person


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