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Silver, Sword, and Stone

Three Crucibles in the Latin American Story
Narrated by: Cynthia Farrell
Length: 16 hrs and 2 mins

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Summary

Winner, American Library Association Booklist’s Top of the List, 2019 Adult Nonfiction

Acclaimed writer Marie Arana delivers a cultural history of Latin America and the three driving forces that have shaped the character of the region: exploitation (silver), violence (sword), and religion (stone). “Meticulously researched, [this] book’s greatest strengths are the power of its epic narrative, the beauty of its prose, and its rich portrayals of character…Marvelous” (The Washington Post).

Leonor Gonzales lives in a tiny community perched 18,000 feet above sea level in the Andean cordillera of Peru, the highest human habitation on earth. Like her late husband, she works the gold mines much as the Indians were forced to do at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Illiteracy, malnutrition, and disease reign as they did five hundred years ago. And now, just as then, a miner’s survival depends on a vast global market whose fluctuations are controlled in faraway places.

Carlos Buergos is a Cuban who fought in the civil war in Angola and now lives in a quiet community outside New Orleans. He was among hundreds of criminals Cuba expelled to the US in 1980. His story echoes the violence that has coursed through the Americas since before Columbus to the crushing savagery of the Spanish Conquest, and from 19th- and 20th-century wars and revolutions to the military crackdowns that convulse Latin America to this day.

Xavier Albó is a Jesuit priest from Barcelona who emigrated to Bolivia, where he works among the indigenous people. He considers himself an Indian in head and heart and, for this, is well known in his adopted country. Although his aim is to learn rather than proselytize, he is an inheritor of a checkered past, where priests marched alongside conquistadors, converting the natives to Christianity, often forcibly, in the effort to win the New World. Ever since, the Catholic Church has played a central role in the political life of Latin America - sometimes for good, sometimes not.

In this “timely and excellent volume” (NPR) Marie Arana seamlessly weaves these stories with the history of the past millennium to explain three enduring themes that have defined Latin America since pre-Columbian times: the foreign greed for its mineral riches, an ingrained propensity to violence, and the abiding power of religion. Silver, Sword, and Stone combines “learned historical analysis with in-depth reporting and political commentary...[and] an informed and authoritative voice, one that deserves a wide audience” (The New York Times Book Review).

©2019 Marie Arana (P)2019 Simon & Schuster

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  • Bernardo
  • 18-09-19

Heart-wrentching, passionate, outreageous

This is an extrordinary, sad, document of the conquest, rape, pillage, despair, and distress, of latin America post “discovery.” Beautifully written, brutally honest and incisive, and, at the end, sad, it is as if there is no hope for Latin America, besides a few brave souls whose bravery stamps stamps spots of fleeting hope, here and there, for some time.

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  • Paula Hood
  • 13-12-19

A Must-Read!

I am very grateful to Maria Arana for writing this book. I want to form a book club so that I can listen to it again, and have an opportunity to discuss it with others. I also have South American heritage, and I deeply appreciate this window into history and how it has shaped present day events, and this glimpse of who we are. I listened to many of the chapters more than once, just to make sure I caught everything in them. I never got bored-- it is a gripping account -- and I plan to listen to the whole book again soon. The narrator was excellent.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 29-10-19

History

A great work for someone like me who knew little of the history of South America. A great introduction with a broad arcing framing making it nicely understandable.

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  • Emma Romey
  • 18-09-20

Needs editing

Repetitive. The Arana’s favorite expression is: “ from time immemorial.” The history Araña provides is important and she relates it passionately.

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  • Malcolm Brian Peters
  • 22-06-20

Truly wonderful!

Doña Marie, please see to it that this work and the Bolivar biography get put into Castellano. I love your work!