Arana's account of Bolivar leading his rag-bag army across the dizzying heights of the Paramo de Pisba - a virtual wall of ice and scree - is gripping stuff Equally compelling are Arana's accounts of Bolivar's countless affairs, especially with his principal mistress, Manuela Saenz, whose ambiguous sexuality and scandalous behaviour earned her notoriety across Bolivar's vast fiefdom.
Marie Arana has done a superb job Marie Arana makes a gripping tale from the life story of Simon Bolivar, the dramatic but controversial son of Spanish America.
Arana's prose is often beautiful. Arana's biography explains why. Simon Bolivar has found the perfect biographer in Marie Arana, a literary journalist, brilliant novelist of South America, and wise historian as well. Her portrait of Bolivar is human and moving; she has written a powerful and epic life and times.
Arana ably captures the brash brilliance of this revered and vilified leader. Thrilling, authoritative and revelatory, here at last is a biography of Bolivar, the maker of South America, that catches the sheer extraordinary unique adventure and titanic scale of his life with accessible narrative and scholarly judgement.
With the eye and ear of a novelist, Marie Arana chants the epic of Bolivar with love, zest, and compelling authority. Walter A. Simon Bolivar, the Liberator, still casts a long shadow in his native Latin America, almost too mythic to have been an actual man. Beautifully written, Bolivar reads like a great work of fiction, yet this book is a well-researched major work of history.
Finally, Bolivar gets the sweeping biography he deserves.
Boliver, by Marie Arana - review
He was the greatest leader in Latin American history, and his tale is filled with lessons about leadership and passion. This book reads like a wonderful novel but is researched like a masterwork of history. Marie Arana has read all the extant archives and has written an admirable, action-filled life. She follows Bolivar from his rich, aristocratic birth, early losses of mother and then child-bride, to his political awakening and rush into action. Her biography is so close to experience that we are back with Bolivar himself, "exuberant mustache and dazzling smile", almost feeling the wind as he passes.
Now we have this splendid new biography by Marie Arana, a Peruvian scholar long established as a literary journalist in the United States. I suspect that one reason why her biography is so plausible and engagingly told is that the Peruvian-born Arana is herself a writer of fiction.
More books by Marie Arana
There is a reason why blood trickles down roads and heads roll out from under bushes in Latin American literature: this is not magical realism. It is history.
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