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Head of Zeus
07 Jan 2021 * EBOOK * £4.99 * 9781789543988

An exploration of the phenomenon of the caudillo figure in Latin American politics and the rise of populism through the modern histories of the continent.

Non Fiction / JPF (Current Affairs)
Extent: 512 pages  Illus: 1 x 8pp col
Exclusive: GB CA AU NZ IN ZA SG US
Populista: The Rise of Latin America's 21st Century Strongmanby Will Grant

'An ambitious, riveting and essential book that has much to teach us about the recent history of this region, and about the human impulse towards populism that continues to shape the world' Ben Rhodes, bestselling author of The World As It Is


For more than six decades, Fidel Castro's words have echoed through the politics of Latin America. His towering political influence still looms over the region today.

The swing to the Left in Latin America, known as the 'Pink Tide', was the most important political movement in the Western Hemisphere in the 21st century. It involved some of the biggest, most colourful and most controversial characters in Latin America for decades, leaders who would leave an indelible mark on their nations and who were adored and reviled in equal measure.

Parties became secondary to individual leaders and populism reigned from Venezuela to Brazil, from Central America to the Caribbean, financed by a spike in commodity prices and the oil-backed largesse of Venezuela's charismatic socialist president, Hugo Chávez.

Yet within a decade and a half, it was all over. Today, this wave of populism has left the Americas in the hands of some of the most authoritarian and dangerous leaders since the military dictatorships of the 1970s.

Will Grant is one of the UK's leading broadcast journalists on Latin American affairs. He has been a BBC correspondent in Latin America since 2007 with successive deployments to Venezuela, Mexico and Cuba. Across his career, he has been responsible for covering the region from Patagonia to the Rio Grande and has travelled to every part of the continent in that time. He is currently based in Havana and Mexico City.

Author is one of the UK's leading broadcast journalists on Latin American affairs, based in Havana and Mexico City.

Includes exclusive interviews with high-profile political figures.

US relations with Latin America and political instability within Latin America are constant topics in the news.

MARKET: Open Veins of Latin America; Forgotten Continent; The Penguin History of Latin America; Dictatorland.

'¡Populista! is action-packed with a large cast of characters, but Grant's lively style never sags under the weight of the detail he manages to pack into the book' Guardian

'This is an astute account of how the left in Latin America gained and then lost power' The Times

'Grant's reporting is detailed and enlightening. He puts the leaders and their reigns in their historical context while asking the movements they fronted worked' Spectator

A tour-de-force of reportage and analysis that makes sense of historic, complex forces that shook Latin America... A lucid, important book' Rory Carroll, author of Comandante

'An ambitious, riveting and essential book that has much to teach us about the recent history of this region, and about the human impulse towards populism that continues to shape the world' Ben Rhodes, New York Times bestselling author of The World As It Is

A valuable and timely guide... Grant's ¡Populista! describes how the playbook of charismatic autocrats and chronic cronyism can unfold anywhere' John Paul Rathbone, author of The Sugar King of Havana

'Will Grant moves deftly from palaces where he heard presidents claiming they embodied the will of the people to the barrios where their policies had most impact' Maurice Walsh, former BBC Latin America correspondent

'Will Grant writes with close knowledge, admirable balance, and the verve of a natural storyteller. A must-read for today's volatile world' Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life

'Will Grant is one of the BBC's great scholar-correspondents, and without peer when it comes to explaining Latin America. In Populista, he marries the depth of knowledge of a fine historian, with the elegant storytelling of a gifted journalist' Nick Bryant, BBC New York Correspondent

'The best piece of non-fiction writing on Latin America that I have read in a long time. Will Grant meets everyone from presidents to the impoverished, and explains it all beautifully' Giles Tremlett, author of Ghosts of Spain

'Will Grant has written an elegant and vivid account of Latin America's strongmen that radiates from the pages like bursts of Cuban sunshine. He skilfully weaves together reportage, startling modern history, and his own personal testimony, to chart the rise to power of some of the most brutal, but fascinating, authoritarian leaders of modern times. He invites us into a world of dripping jungle hideouts, dusty urban warfare. At times, it is as if the reader has slipped into the pages of Gabriel Garcia Marquez' Paul Kenyon, author of Dictatorland

'Grant expertly traces how the actions and views of his subjects played out on ordinary lives, for better or worse, from women like Cristina Chuquijanca de Soria, 'Maduro diet' of inflation and food shortages under the country's current president' ArtReview

The portraits of each character (which Grant calls 'Shakespearean' and 'colorful') are very interesting, with a lot of historical and personal information... It provides tools which allow the reader to accept or refute the author's positions in the preface and in the epilogue with numerous arguments and good information... An enjoyable read and highly recommended for those who wish to understand Latin America' The Sentinel

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