Culture > Notable Books

Chile: The Legacy of Hispanic Capitalism, third edition

GIST An overview of Chilean political and economic history.

CONTENT A political science professor analyzes the impact of social stratification, land tenure, modernization, and urbanization on Chile's development. Loveman's discussion of recent years leans to the left but does not slide into outright propaganda, and it doesn't get much better than that when U.S. academics write about Chile.

Marketing Democracy

GIST A view from the left of how to help poor people in Chile.

CONTENT An anthropologist presents evidence that at times shows the importance of private property. Paley mobilizes those who live near a sports field that's become a garbage dump to study why that happened, and they conclude, "the field doesn't belong to anybody.... We always clean in front of our houses, but if a place belongs to nobody, then it's as if it doesn't matter if we throw garbage."

Private Solutions to Public Problems

GIST The best book in English on the Chilean version of compassionate conservatism.

CONTENT The Instituto, Chile's leading public policy think tank, has pushed for innovations involving private enterprise in social security, health care, and education, and has also proposed alternatives to governmental control of energy, telecommunications, and transportation. Chapters on primary, secondary, and higher education are particularly useful.

Out of the Ashes

GIST A focus on Allende's ascent, the '73 coup, and its aftermath, from a conservative perspective.

CONTENT A well-researched, readable, and thorough presentation of the case against Allende, with insights into the personalities and policies of left and right leaders. Bitingly critical of the those in media and academia who intentionally or unwittingly pushed Marxism, Whelan argues that the military responded to an "Allende must go" consensus and did what was necessary.

Prophetic Pentecostalism in Chile

GIST A dully written book on an important subject.

CONTENT Academic writing that somehow makes Pentecostalism seem dull. Discussing the 1970s and 1980s, Kamsteeg does point out that "the military scorn for politics and social organization ... linked up well with the manifest Pentecostal distrust of 'worldly' solutions advocated by grassroots organizations."

In the spotlight

Authors Patrick Barr-Melej, Judith A. Teichman, and Paul Sigmund have written other notable books on Chile.

Other recent books about Chile include Patrick Barr-Melej's Reforming Chile: Cultural Politics, Nationalism, and the Rise of the Middle Class and Judith A. Teichman's The Politics of Freeing Markets in Latin America; the University of North Carolina Press published both in 2001. Barr-Melej shows how the Chilean government took over education and had schoolchildren learning poems with lines like, "Where are you going? said Fame / to Chile, and History said: / I will conquer glory; I go where duty calls.... I would die loyal and well, / for my adored Chile." Varun Gauri's School Choice in Chile (U. of Pittsburgh Press, 1998) criticizes reforms of the past two decades and suggests that government educators know best.

Readers of Spanish can enjoy an update on Private Solutions to Public Problems, discussed above. Chile 2010: el Desafio del Desarrollo, also edited by Christian Larroulet, includes innovative proposals concerning poverty fighting, urban life, education, work, and infrastructure. One old book worth mentioning is Paul Sigmund's The Overthrow of Allende and the Politics of Chile (U. of Pittsburgh Press, 1977), a moderate work that shows how Allende acted immoderately.

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