In This Review

Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America
Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America
By Alma Guillermoprieto
Pantheon, 2001, 320 pp

This sparkling collection of essays, written for The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books, deals principally with Cuba, Colombia, and Mexico. Guillermoprieto is well recognized for her evocative, intimate style and her sympathetic but critical insights into Latin American affairs. These skills are all on display again here. She writes how she revisited Cuba in 1998 and was shocked to discover, behind a great cloud of wishful thinking, the fact that "the emperor dressed in rags." She also describes how Colombia's role as a primary supplier of drugs to the United States has turned it into the staging area for Washington's war against the clandestine armies of guerrillas and drug traders. And in Mexico she chronicles the demise of the once powerful regime that ran the country with an iron hand for 71 years. She looks at President Vicente Fox with some bemusement and considerable surprise, calling him the "least t'pico" Mexican president ever chosen. (His grandfather was American-Irish, his mother Basque.) Readers should look forward to Guillermoprieto's future accounts of the Fox administration. On the basis of this splendid and insightful work, she is clearly a writer at the top of her form.