In This Review

The Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future
The Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future
By Ricardo Lagos,Blake Hounshell,Elizabeth Dickinson
Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, 272 pp

Forget the misleading title: this engrossing political memoir tells the inspiring story of how during the 1980s, a determined political opposition managed to outmaneuver an entrenched military dictatorship and restore democracy to Chile. As a tenacious leader of that opposition, Lagos built a strategy that eschewed violence, forged unity among quarreling factions, and lent courage to a fear-stricken population -- timeless lessons for pro-democracy movements fighting authoritarian regimes everywhere. As minister of education and minister of public works, and later as president, from 2000 to 2006, Lagos improved social services for the poor -- while the lifelong socialist also discovered the virtues of free-trade agreements and public-private partnerships. Still, the right remains powerful in Chile, and a conservative businessman was elected president in 2010. Lagos applauds the student protesters now demanding better access to quality education as “the children of Chile’s democracy.” As president of a small, remote country, Lagos advocated a rules-based world order to protect weaker states living in the shadows of more powerful neighbors. Overall, Lagos emerges as a judicious and compassionate leader, a worthy torchbearer for the best of Chile’s political traditions.