The Paraguay Reader

COVER The Paraguay Reader History, Culture, PoliticsThe Paraguay Reader: History, Culture, Politics
Edited by Peter Lambert and Andrew Nickson
2013, Duke University Press
475 pages, plates

THE LATEST in Duke’s excellent Latin America reader series zooms in on Paraguay, perhaps the least understood nation in the Hispanic Americas in what the book’s Introduction perceptively recognises as one of the forgotten corners of the globe. There is something enigmatic about Paraguay, a country defined say the editors not so much by association as by isolation, exaggerated by the country’s geography and the stubborn but encouraging survival of Guaraní as the preferred language of the majority (despite having an indigenous population of less than 2 per cent). Yet this excellent collection of literary artefacts and historical texts and reportage lifts this veil of mystery and shines a light on the country’s hidden hinterland, providing the reader with genuinely interesting insights into a country and society that is poorly understood in South America itself, let alone in the rest of the world. Extracts move rapidly from the colonial to the nationalist and civil war periods, and thence from dictatorship to democratic transition. They range from a report about Paraguay by the London Press in 1824 to the fascinating reflections on paternity of sociologist Clyde Soto generated by the scandals sparked by revelations about the children fathered by Fernando Lugo, the president and former Catholic bishop. The final section of this book – on what it means to be Paraguayan is a tour de force and will allow readers whose knowledge of the country is limited to make up considerable ground in a short time. – GO’T

Latin American Review of Books – Latamrob

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