Hemmed in by the vast, arid Chaco to the west and, for most of its history, impenetrable jungles to the east, Paraguay has been defined largely by its isolation. Partly as a result, there has been a dearth of serious scholarship or journalism about the country. Going a long way toward redressing this lack of information and analysis, The Paraguay Reader is a lively compilation of testimonies, journalism, scholarship, political tracts, literature, and illustrations, including maps, photographs, paintings, drawings, and advertisements. Taken together, the anthology's many selections convey the country's extraordinarily rich history and cultural heritage, as well as the realities of its struggles against underdevelopment, foreign intervention, poverty, inequality, and authoritarianism.
Most of the Reader is arranged chronologically. Weighted toward the twentieth century and early twenty-first, it nevertheless gives due attention to major events in Paraguay's history, such as the Triple Alliance War (1864–70) and the Chaco War (1932–35). The Reader's final section, focused on national identity and culture, addresses matters including ethnicity, language, and gender. Most of the selections are by Paraguayans, and many of the pieces appear in English for the first time. Helpful introductions by the editors precede each of the book's sections and all of the selected texts.
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Peter Lambert is a Senior Lecturer in Spanish and Latin American Studies in the Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies at the University of Bath. He is a coeditor of Latin American Foreign Policies: Between Ideology and Pragmatism and Political Violence and the Construction of National Identity in Latin America.
Andrew Nickson is the Honorary Reader in Public Management and Latin American Studies at the University of Birmingham. He is the author of Local Government in Latin America and the Historical Dictionary of Paraguay. Lambert and Nickson are the editors of Transition to Democracy in Paraguay.Review:
"The Paraguay Reader will become the most obvious starting point for both Latin Americanists and nonspecialists wanting to learn about Paraguay, one of the least known, studied, or understood countries in South America. This anthology gives readers access, for the first time, to a well-chosen selection of texts representing the country's history, culture, and politics. The materials are impeccably organized, and the introductions are clear, informative, and thought-provoking." (Will Fowler, author of Latin America since 1780)
"This book fills an enormous gap in knowledge about Paraguay and will be a standard reference on the country for many years to come." (Ticio Escobar, Minister of Culture, Paraguay, August 15, 2008, to June 22, 2012)
“At its best, The Paraguay Reader puts oppositional texts next to each other, not resolving the cacophony of voices but instead allowing the tensions to stand. As such, the compilation serves as an introductory overview for historians, regionalists, and social scientists; but, as the first English-language text of its kind, The Paraguay Reader will also be an important text for Paraguayanists.” (Christine Folch Hispanic American Historical Review)
“Many of the accounts are being made accessible in English for the first time and thus provide an invaluable resource on the subjects treated, one that has no parallel in the current literature. All of the accounts are preceded by introductions that prepare the reader for the historical significance of the piece.” (Leonard Rinchiuso Journal of Latin American Geography)
“Overall, the editors offer an indispensable guide to an important topic. A must-have for any academic library. Summing up: Essential.” (K.A. Tyvela Choice)
“This excellent collection of literary artefacts and historical texts and reportage lifts this veil of mystery and shines a light on the country’s hidden hinterland, providing the reader with genuinely interesting insights into a country and society that is poorly understood in South America itself, let alone in the rest of the world.” (Gavin O’Toole Latin American Review of Books)
“Peter Lambert and Andrew Nickson have written a wonderfully engaging and useful text that addresses Paraguay’s fascinating and complicated history, replete with unique linguistics and national identity, and rich cultural heritage. . . . The lack of information about Paraguay is palpable.Nonetheless, Lambert and Nickson have corrected this oversight with a text that is bound to find an audience with undergraduate students, future Peace Corps volunteers . . . travelers, missionaries, businesspersons, and diplomats.” (Bridget María Chesterton A Contracorriente)
“The Paraguay Reader is a much needed and therefore welcome contribution to the practically nonexistent field of Paraguayan studies. Anyone who wishes to better understand Paraguay will find this book indispensable.” (Marcelino Viera-Ramos The Latin Americanist)
“The Paraguay Reader is an excellent compilation of literature, folklore, anecdote, reportage and academic research. It illustrates the indomitable capacity of the Paraguayan people.” (Ed Hart Sounds and Colours)
"The editors do an admirable job of compiling primary sources and analytical essays on the history, politics, and culture of this small, landlocked, poorly understood nation. Undoubtedly the most comprehensive and accessible introduction to Paraguay available in English, The Paraguay Reader both explains and complicates the country’s fabled uniqueness." (Christine Mathias Ethnohistory)
“For readers seeking an introduction to Paraguayan history and instructors interested in incorporating a tremendous range of source materials in the classroom, The Paraguay Reader is an excellent resource.” (Caroline E. Schuster Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology)
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