This 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.