In the opening chapter, the Youngs briefly explain how the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century advanced the new political philosophy that all individuals were born equal. Growing out of this new thought came the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and finally the Latin American Revolution. Only nine of the many heroes of the nearly twenty-year Latin American Revolution are described in Liberators of Latin America. The individuals portrayed in the biographies are considered to be true heroes who continue to be honored by their respective countries. Each chapter is less than thirty pages in length and yet presents the essence of the heroic details that made the individual great. These figures all made major sacrifices of their time and energy to devote to the cause of liberty, showing young adults that liberty has a price.
The authors did not fictionalize the various biographies with undocumented conversations; the accounts are narratives with occasional quotations from letters or diaries. For example, a young Bolívar wrote a letter to a friend in which he states, “My life is a desert.” The liberators are positively portrayed but are shown to have characteristics that made them human. Bolívar is depicted as a spoiled, headstrong boy who made life miserable for his teachers. San Martín was a solemn boy, but too practical and down-to-earth to be considered brilliant. Benito Juárez’s expression was usually rigid and unsmiling....
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The Youngs’ study of the Latin American liberators focuses on the positive attributes of a few of Latin America’s foremost heroes. For the student who is identifying national leaders in various cultures, Liberators of Latin America contains a wealth of information. Many modern students are not aware of the large number of heroic individuals who are not usually found in history textbooks. American students in particular can gain a new perspective on this historical period, as some of the wealthy plantation owners who fled the revolution in Latin America settled in the southern United States to take up the fight again. Many students may not be aware of the vast areas of the world that held slaves and fought diligently to keep the slave-holding system.
The final chapter, entitled “After the Battle: The Rise of the New Republics,” gives the reader a glimpse into the history of the Latin American Revolution as it continues to affect citizens of the area. According to the Youngs, the years of internal conflicts and the frequent military coups “slowed the economic and political growth of all the republics.” This political infighting is still changing the map and the people of Latin America.