Comandante: Hugo Chavez's Venezuela

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Comandante: Hugo Chavez's Venezuela

by Rory Carroll

Penguin Press (HC) | March 7, 2013 | Hardcover |

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In the aftermath of Hugo Chávez''s death, the inside story of his life, his Venezuela, and his legacy.

Hugo Chávez was a phenomenon. He has been compared to Napoléon, Nasser, Perón, and Castro, but the truth is there has never been a leader like him. He was democratically elected, reigned like a monarch from a digital throne, and provoked adoration and revulsion in equal measure. Future historians will study his rule for what it says about the early twenty-first century. How did a charismatic autocrat seduce not just a nation but a significant part of world opinion? How did he make people laugh and weep and applaud, as if on command? And how did he continue to stay in power despite the crumbling of Venezuela?

When he first came to power in 1999, Chávez promised a democratic revolution to transform his country. In Venezuela and elsewhere, he became a symbol of hope and freedom for his people. Yet in his thirteen years as president, Chávez seized control of the hugely lucrative Venezuelan oil industry, consolidated government authority under the presidency, allowed basic government functions to wither, jailed and excommunicated political opponents, created a personality cult, and courted Castro and Ahmadinejad, all while occupying much of Venezuela's airwaves with his long-running television show, ¡Alo Presidente!

In Comandante, acclaimed journalist Rory Carroll breaches the walls of Miraflores Palace to tell the inside story of Chávez''s life and his political court in Caracas. Based on interviews with ministers, aides, courtiers, and citizens, this intimate piece of reportage chronicles a unique experiment in power, which veers among enlightenment, tyranny, comedy, and farce. Carroll investigates the almost religious devotion of millions of Venezuelans who still regard Chávez as a savior and the loathing of those who brand him a dictator. In beautiful prose that blends the lyricism and strangeness of magical realism with the brutal, ugly truth of authoritarianism—a powerful combination reminiscent of Ryszard Kapuscinski''s The Emperor—Rory Carroll has written a cautionary tale for our times.

 

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 320 Pages, 5.91 × 9.06 × 0.79 in

Published: March 7, 2013

Publisher: Penguin Press (HC)

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1594204578

ISBN - 13: 9781594204579

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– More About This Product –

Comandante: Hugo Chavez's Venezuela

by Rory Carroll

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 320 Pages, 5.91 × 9.06 × 0.79 in

Published: March 7, 2013

Publisher: Penguin Press (HC)

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1594204578

ISBN - 13: 9781594204579

About the Book

The inside story of Hugo Chvez's Venezuela, where the leader's charisma has captivated a nationNand led it to the brink. Based on interviews with ministers, aides, courtiers, and citizens, this intimate piece of reportage chronicles a unique experiment in power, which veers among enlightenment, tyranny, comedy, and farce.

From the Publisher

In the aftermath of Hugo Chávez''s death, the inside story of his life, his Venezuela, and his legacy.

Hugo Chávez was a phenomenon. He has been compared to Napoléon, Nasser, Perón, and Castro, but the truth is there has never been a leader like him. He was democratically elected, reigned like a monarch from a digital throne, and provoked adoration and revulsion in equal measure. Future historians will study his rule for what it says about the early twenty-first century. How did a charismatic autocrat seduce not just a nation but a significant part of world opinion? How did he make people laugh and weep and applaud, as if on command? And how did he continue to stay in power despite the crumbling of Venezuela?

When he first came to power in 1999, Chávez promised a democratic revolution to transform his country. In Venezuela and elsewhere, he became a symbol of hope and freedom for his people. Yet in his thirteen years as president, Chávez seized control of the hugely lucrative Venezuelan oil industry, consolidated government authority under the presidency, allowed basic government functions to wither, jailed and excommunicated political opponents, created a personality cult, and courted Castro and Ahmadinejad, all while occupying much of Venezuela's airwaves with his long-running television show, ¡Alo Presidente!

In Comandante, acclaimed journalist Rory Carroll breaches the walls of Miraflores Palace to tell the inside story of Chávez''s life and his political court in Caracas. Based on interviews with ministers, aides, courtiers, and citizens, this intimate piece of reportage chronicles a unique experiment in power, which veers among enlightenment, tyranny, comedy, and farce. Carroll investigates the almost religious devotion of millions of Venezuelans who still regard Chávez as a savior and the loathing of those who brand him a dictator. In beautiful prose that blends the lyricism and strangeness of magical realism with the brutal, ugly truth of authoritarianism—a powerful combination reminiscent of Ryszard Kapuscinski''s The Emperor—Rory Carroll has written a cautionary tale for our times.

 

About the Author

Veteran journalist and former chief of the Latin American bureau for the Guardian, Rory Carroll has covered war zones, survived a kidnapping in Iraq, and reported on the transition to full democracy in South Africa. Now in California, he was stationed in Caracas for the research and writing of Comandante. His wife is a native Venezuelan.

Editorial Reviews

" Comandante provides an impressively well-researched and readable portrait ... Carroll''s book should serve as a useful reminder of what el Comandante did and didn''t achieve, how he got away with it and the danger of statesmen-as-showmen whose promises are too good to be true." — The New York Times Book Review "Carroll shows how Chavez’s shoddy understanding and willful manipulation of the economy ended by raining misery on the very people he meant to save. We see, in this vivid narrative, a government that is Shakespearean in its failings. By 2000, one year after Chavez was installed, a campaign everyone could believe in — rout the corrupt! elevate the poor! invigorate the nation! — had produced a clone of Cuba’s faltering communist state... [a] deeply informative, sprightly chronicle of Venezuela’s dizzying journey under its Comandante. ... Here is a lively portrait of a new Latin American genus: the democratically elected caudillo. As Garcia Marquez so presciently said a few years ago: ''The dictator is the only mythological figure Latin America has ever produced; and his legacy is far from over.''" —Washington Post "Deftly retells the familiar narrative and then adds something new: Hugo Chávez was a terrible boss, radiating administrative chaos from his desk at the presidential palace. The toll of this mismanagement will define post-Chávez Venezuela." —The New Republic   "Rory Carroll’s engaging, highl
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