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Simón Bolívar (Simon Bolivar)

Simón Bolívar (Simon Bolivar): A Life

Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Simón Bolívar (Simon Bolivar)
    Book Description:

    Simón Bolívar was a revolutionary who freed six countries, an intellectual who argued the principles of national liberation, and a general who fought a cruel colonial war. His life, passions, battles, and great victories became embedded in Spanish American culture almost as soon as they happened. This is the first major English-language biography of "The Liberator" in half a century. John Lynch draws on extensive research on the man and his era to tell Bolívar's story, to understand his life in the context of his own society and times, and to explore his remarkable and enduring legacy.

    The book illuminates the inner world of Bolívar, the dynamics of his leadership, his power to command, and his modes of ruling the diverse peoples of Spanish America. The key to his greatness, Lynch concludes, was supreme will power and an ability to inspire people to follow him beyond their immediate interests, in some cases through years of unremitting struggle. Encompassing Bolívar's entire life and his many accomplishments, this is the definitive account of a towering figure in the history of the Western hemisphere.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13770-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Maps
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Chapter 1 Out of a Spanish Colony
    (pp. 1-21)

    On 26 March 1812 a massive earthquake struck Venezuela. From the Andes to the coast, from Mérida to La Guaira, the earth heaved and cracked, buildings crumbled and people perished in their thousands. The royalist chronicler José Domingo Díaz was there, his journalist instincts aroused:

    It was four o’clock, the sky of Caracas was clear and bright, and an immense calm seemed to intensify the pressure of an unbearable heat; a few drops of rain were falling though there was not a cloud in the sky. I left my house for the Cathedral and, about 100 paces from the plaza...

  7. Chapter 2 Lessons from the Age of Reason
    (pp. 22-40)

    Once he had ordered his affairs and secured his finances in Caracas, Bolívar set sail for Spain in October 1803 and reached Cadiz by the end of the year. But, as he planned his life anew, Spain did not satisfy his interests. He paused in Madrid, long enough to see his father-in-law and share his grief, and by mid August 1804 he was in Paris.

    At the age of twenty-one Bolívar’s looks, though restrained, were those of a young man somewhat arrogant and pleased with himself, fresh-faced, if the surviving miniature is correct, with regular features and frank eyes already...

  8. Chapter 3 Creole Revolution
    (pp. 41-64)

    Bolívar returned to Venezuela in 1807 convinced that the independence of his country was imperative and inevitable. His conviction came not simply from life in Caracas or work on his estates but from his experience in Europe, where the international situation alerted him to impending change and the ideas of the age made a deep impression on his mind. He found that few people in Venezuela shared his views and that political consciousness in the colony was not raised enough to question loyalty to the king and support for the existing order. His arguments convinced his brother Juan Vicente but...

  9. Chapter 4 War to the Death
    (pp. 65-90)

    Cartagena was an obvious choice for Bolívar. Caribbean port and fortified outpost of South America, once a depot for the Atlantic slave trade and now the home of a diverse population of blacks,mulattosand Indians, it opened an alternative route to independence. Its hinterland of great rivers, plains, jungles and mountains, of tropical vegetation and bleak plateaus, contained a similar mixture of resources as Venezuela – with the addition of gold deposits, now less profitable than formerly. Like Venezuela, New Granada was in the second league of Spanish colonies, though elevated to a viceroyalty in the eighteenth century. A population...

  10. Chapter 5 Touchstone of the Revolution
    (pp. 91-118)

    In 1814 Ferdinand VII, returned to Spain, restored absolute government and began to punish liberals. In America his policy was equally bereft of ideas and deaf to pacification. Here restoration meant reconquest and the revival of the colonial state. On 16 February 1815 an expeditionary force sailed from Cadiz under the command of General Pablo Morillo, a rough professional soldier, veteran of the peninsular war, who ruled by order and discipline. The original destination, the Río de la Plata, was changed in favour of Venezuela, the focal point of revolution and counter-revolution, from which New Granada could be reconquered, Peru...

  11. Chapter 6 New Strategy, New Front
    (pp. 119-142)

    In the first decade of revolution Bolívar’s life acquired a rhythm of thought and action which he sustained with extraordinary consistency through periods otherwise marked by political disorder, military confusion and personal defeat. From the time of the first republic there was a pattern of advance, retreat, reorganize; this was repeated in the second republic with a further push, another defeat, another pause; then a third sequence of attack, rebuff and return, beginning in Haiti and ending in Guayana. In each stage there was a similar response to challenge: first analysis, then action. So the Cartagena Manifesto preceded the Admirable...

  12. Chapter 7 Society According to Bolívar
    (pp. 143-166)

    Leadership could win campaigns and deliver liberation, and in northern South America Bolívar was supreme leader. But the work of one man could not in itself transform society or reorder the economy. Bolívar might dominate events but not conditions. Amidst post-war turbulence he never ceased to identify needs, project policies or consider solutions. But people’s lives were conditioned by the societies and economies in which they found themselves and which the war had not basically changed, except, perhaps, for the worse. Moreover, solutions were canvassed not only by Bolívar but by a multitude of politicians, interest groups and rivals, with...

  13. Chapter 8 War and Love in the Andes
    (pp. 167-196)

    The next two years, 1822–4, would be critical for Bolívar, the fulfilment or the failure of his hopes. He was determined to take the revolution south to Peru. This, he believed, was his mission, the magnet that drew him on. After the victory of Carabobo, Santander had issued a proclamation in which he described Bolívar as the ‘hijo predilecto de la gloria’.¹ A generous tribute, ‘very elegant’ acknowledged Bolívar, who was already imagining his future in the south: ‘But take care, my friend, that you first let me have 4,000 or 5,000 men, so that Peru may give me...

  14. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  15. Chapter 9 The Man of Problems
    (pp. 197-225)

    Liberation was a rolling enterprise. One conquest succeeded another from Venezuela onwards, and a further target was always in sight. In these serial campaigns Bolívar could use his talents for big thinking and detailed improvisation, and exercise an indomitable will. Under his direction, the revolution moved on, fifteen years of slow but sure advance against the Spanish empire. Yet there was a limit to the boundaries of liberation, an end to the enemy armies. The last victory stopped the charge forward, and as the liberators reined in and looked around they saw not Spaniards but Americans. The scene changed from...

  16. Chapter 10 The Magic of his Prestige
    (pp. 226-251)

    Bolívar loved his native city from a distance, though he was not always homesick for it, ‘for the earthquakes there are intolerable and the people more so’.¹ But on 4 January 1827, accompanied by Páez, he entered Caracas to a hero’s welcome and the triumphal arches, garlands, songs, ceremonies and celebrations that recalled happier times. Fifteen young women in white presented him with two laurel crowns, ‘one for his triumph over the tyrants, the other for his triumph in preventing civil war’, laurels which he promptly diverted, one to Páez and the other in dedication to Colombia. And in a...

  17. Chapter 11 Journey of Disillusion
    (pp. 252-279)

    There were few choices now, only further trials by battle. If 1828 was a bad year worse were to come. The chronology, the policies and the itineraries of the time are complex, and the observer has to track Bolívar closely to follow his mind and movements. But the logic of events is clear. In 1829 the juxtaposition of external shock and internal revolt produced a classic state of crisis, a turning point when things were on a knife-edge. Attack from Peru encouraged dissidents in Colombia, these challenged the regime, and the exodus from the doomed state began. Bolívar was struggling...

  18. Chapter 12 The Legacy
    (pp. 280-304)

    The history of Bolívar is not a seamless web from first protest to last battle. His life unfolded in three stages: revolution, independence and state building. In the first, from 1810 to 1818, the young, enlightened Venezuelan was a revolutionary leader, who fought and legislated for his native land and its neighbour New Granada. In the second, from 1819 to 1826, he was the universal liberator who saw beyond national boundaries and took the revolution to its limit. In the third, from 1827 to 1830, he was the statesman who sought institutions, security and reform for Americans, and left a...

  19. Notes
    (pp. 305-333)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 334-340)
  21. Glossary
    (pp. 341-342)
  22. Index
    (pp. 343-350)