A Brief History of Central America – Hector Perez-Brignoli

centrecourtThis is the first interpretive history of Central America by a Central American historian to be published in English. Anyone with an interest in current events in the region will find here an insightful and well-written guide to the history of its five national states – Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Traces of a common past invite us to make generalizations about the region, even to posit the idea of a Central American nation. But, asHector Perez-Brignoli shows us, we can learn more from a comparative approach that establishes both the points of convergence and the separate paths taken by the five different countries of Central America.

Sometimes it seems that the countries that make up the Mesoamerican region are presented as just that, a homogenous zone that just happens to have borders.  The complexity of the area is compelling and laid out in a detailed and sprawling summary.

This, the first native overview to be published in English aims to explore the histories, views and motivations of the various peoples, it’s a history from the 16th century all the way through to nineteen eighty-seven. Despite being written by a local, the work is detached from any emotional analysis and has led me to take an interest in the present condition of these countries.

The historical account is a comprehensive loss of pre-columbian culture, countries pillaged and subjugated, then rendered weak by Spanish leaving.  The – sadly – expected tales of repression, class inequality, coups, general chaos, corruption, and foreign powers meddling for their own good are all seen here as expected.

Complex in both political and geographical ways, diverse and divergent, I appreciated the time taken to explore the lesser known and talked about ex-Spanish dominions. This reader knew little about the countries in that region, except for their position on the map and how the football teams are doing.

The 20th century part is succinctly summed up, the focus being very much on the historical, and their burgeoning on the world stage, which has like so many other countries been marred by a constant lack of stability, and degenerate politicians out for nothing more than their own gain.

For a speculative purchase I enjoyed the book very much, it provides a good overview of a part of the world with interesting possibilities. The amount of information on offer leaves plenty of avenues for speculative research, and inspires internet searches to see how the countries are all getting on, as well as their respective football teams.


8 Replies to “A Brief History of Central America – Hector Perez-Brignoli”

    1. I do enjoy my football, but I did avoid mentioning the football war between El Salvador and Honduras just to make the review slightly more balanced. This is one of those books I picked up on a whim because I had no idea about the region and wished to be informed, and was happy I did so.


  1. At least an interest in football gives supporters a good idea where different countries are to be found! I have great difficulty trying to remember where many countries are situated and would never have remembered all the states in Central America if asked, to my shame!
    Looks like a good overview.


    1. I learned where countries are through football, and better yet cities, player names can help too. I would love to come across similar books from various parts of the world, just to feel a little less ignorant of this small planet.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds like something that’s really needed – there’s so much that’s misunderstood about that region by English speaking people. Politicians need to read books like this – though I wonder if that would help.


    1. I always wonder what politicians read but I am sure if asked they would play it safe and trot out all the usual safe classics of whatever country they are in, with a modern bestseller to appeal to the masses, which will get them roundly mocked by all. Politics is too corrupt to help anybody but the small own circle of friends, so in all I think politicians reading books almost becomes irrelevant.


  3. Okay… sounds good,I like history.

    Hysterics… well that’s Toronto right now. The Raptors are leading in the finals… okay 1-0 out of 7 games.
    Okay… it’s basketball (not football), and I don’t watch, but I love how passionate the city has become!


    1. Filipinos love their basketball too so I am familiar with the names of the US and Canadian teams but it all passed me by. Like you though there is something fun about the buzz that the locals get when something big is happening.

      Liked by 1 person

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