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Annotated Bibliography of Books on Venezuela

English:

Boudin, Chesa, Gabriel Gonzalez, and Wilmer Rumbos (2006) The Venezuelan Revolution: 100 Questions - 100 Answers, New York: Thunder's Mouth Press

A useful FAQ compilation about all aspects of the Chavez presidency.

Buxton, Julia (2001) The Failure of Political Reform in Venezuela, Aldershot, England: Ashgate

A political science book about how the president just before Chavez, Rafael Caldera, failed to deal with the country's crisis and how one of the country's main left parties, La Causa R tried to address this crisis. Good reference for understanding the dynamics at work that lead to people to vote for Chavez.

Coronil, Fernando (1997) The Magical State, Chicago: University of Chicago Press

An anthropological and theoretical account of how Venezuelan politics crashed in the pre-Chavez years. Perhaps one of the main texts on pre-Chavez Venezuela.

Ellner, Steve and Daniel Hellinger (eds.) (2003) Venezuelan Politics in the Chávez Era: Class, Polarization, and Conflict, London: Lynne Rienner Publishers

One of the most in-depth analyses of the Chavez Era, up until 2002. Very good for understanding many of the developments in a wide variety of areas, such as the Bolivarian movement, the economy, labor, oil, state reform, civil society, etc.

Ellner, Steve and Miguel Tinker Salas (2005) "The Venezuelan Exceptionalism Thesis: Separating Myth from Reality," Latin American Perspectives, Vol. 32, No.2, London: Sage

Actually, Steve Ellner edited two consecutive volumes of Latin American Perspectives on the "Venezuelan Exceptionalism Thesis." These are particularly important for understanding the pre-Chavez era and its dynamics.

Farrell, Jojo, Michael Fox and Carlos Martinez (2010) Venezuela Speaks!: Voices from the Grassroots, Oakland: PM Press

A collection of interviews with activists from across Venezuela's social movements, including community media, land reform, cooperatives, communal councils, labor, and the Afro-Venezuelan network. Sheds light on the complex realities within the Bolivarian Revolution, and breaks from the Chavez-dominated coverage of the international media.

Golinger, Eva (2005) The Chavez Code: Cracking U.S. Intervention in Venezuela, Havana: Editorial José Martí

Crucial reading for learning about U.S. intervention in Venezuela.

Gott, Richard (2000) In the Shadow of the Liberator, later renamed: Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution for the expanded 2005 edition. London: Verso Books

One of the basic texts for learning about Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution, from a pro-Chavez perspective. It is an easy read and provides information on all the main points about what is happening in Venezuela today.

Guevara, Aleida (2005) Chávez, Venezuela & the New Latin America, New York: Ocean Books

A book-length interview with Chavez by one of Che Guevara's daughters, containing Chavez's personal reflections on a wide variety of issues.

Harnecker, Marta (2005) Understanding the Venezuelan Revolution: Hugo Chavez talks to Marta Harnecker, New York: Monthly Review Press

A book-length interview with Chavez shortly alter the April 2002 coup attempt. Very important for making sense of some of the events early in Chavez's presidency. Translated from Spanish (see below) by Chesa Boudin.

Jones, Bart (2007) Hugo! The Hugo Chávez Story from Mud Hut to Perpetual Revolution, Hanover, NH: Steerforth Press

The most in-depth biography available of Chavez, written by a former AP correspondent, who takes a rather sympathetic view of the controversial president. Has received numerous positive reviews.

Karl, Terry Lynn (1997) The Paradox of Plenty, Berkeley: University of California Press

In my opinion, this is one of the single most important books for understanding Venezuela's economy and politics in the pre-Chavez years. It clearly shows how oil has been both a blessing and a curse for Venezuela.

Kozloff, Nikolas (2006) Hugo Chávez: Oil, Politics, and the Challenge to the U.S. New York: Palgrave Macmillan

A pro-Chavez account of the relationship between Venezuela and the U.S. Rather than emphasizing the Bush administration's efforts to destabilize Venezuela, as Golinger's book does, this one reflects more on the overt politics between the two countries and the importance that oil has for both.

Marcano, Cristina and Alberto Barrera Tyszka (2007) Hugo Chavez: The Definitive Biography of Venezuela's Controversial President New York: Random House

A biography of Chávez by two Venezuelan writers, written from a more critical and psychologizing perspective than Bart Jones's biography.

McCaughan, Michael (2005) The Battle of Venezuela New York: Seven Stories Press

A brief introduction into Chavez-era Venezuela from a mostly pro-Chavez point-of-view. I hesitate to include this book, though, because in an earlier edition (published by the Latin America Bureau, London) the author copied entire pages from my New Left Review article on Venezuela. The Seven Stories Press edition thankfully deleted the copied sections. Also, the book is quite superficial, contains many minor errors, and concludes by recommending that Chavez resign before completing his first full term in office.

Lebowitz, Michael (2006) Build it Now: Socialism for the 21st Century New York: Monthly Review Press

One of the main books for interpreting the socialist nature of the Chavez government (the other two being D.L. Raby's and Gregory Wilpert's). While it is not just about Venezuela, Venezuela is its main focus.

McCoy, Jennifer and David Myers (eds.) (2004) The Unraveling of Representative Democracy in Venezuela, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press

A rather opposition-oriented political science analysis of the pre-Chavez and early Chavez years, by the Carter Center's main representative in Venezuela in the period leading up to the 2004 recall referendum.

Raby, D.L. (2006) Democracy and Revolution: Latin America and Socialism Today, London: Pluto Press

This is one of the other main texts for interpreting the importance of the Chavez government for socialism. It also includes analyses of the Cuban and Nicaraguan revolutions.

Wilpert, Gregory (September, 2007) Changing Venezuela by Taking Power London: Verso Books

This is my terribly delayed analysis of the policies of the Chavez presidency (1999-2006). Its emphasis is on why socialism became an option at this particular point in time and to what extent the government's policies can be considered socialist and what we might learn from this experience. Essential reading :-).

Spanish:

Blanco Muñoz, Augustin (1998) Habla el comandante, Caracas: Fundación Catedra Pio Tamayo

An extensive (400pp+) series of interviews with Hugo Chavez before he became president. At the time, the interviewer, Blanco Muñoz, seemed to sympathize with Chavez. In the meantime, he has become an outspoken oppositionist.

Blanco, Carlos (2002) Revolución y Desilusión, Caracas: Libros de Catarata

An opposition treatise on the Chavez government, which tries to explain why Chavez and his government are a failure.

Carmona Ulloa, Ernesto (2004) Los Dueños de Venezuela, Caracas: Editorial Question

A fairly dry run-down of the country's rich and famous, who they are and how they got there. Important for understanding some of the opposition's connections.

Catala, José Augustin and Eleazar Díaz Rangel (2003) De Pérez Jiménez a Hugo Chávez: Censura y Autocensura, Caracas: El Centauro

A nice summary of limitations on freedom of the press during Venezuela's "democratic period." Points out how press freedom was actually quite limited before Chavez came into office and how much freer it is now.

Diaz Rangel, Eleazar (2006) Todo Chavez: De Sabaneta al socialismo del siglo XXI, segunda edición, Caracas: Planeta

Another book-length interview with Chavez, mostly conducted in 2001 and 2002. For the post 2002 period the author uses Chavez's speeches to answer his questions about 21st century socialism.

Elizalde, Rosa and Luis Baez (2004) Chávez Nuestro, Havana: Casa Editorial Abril

Biographical testimonials from Chavezs friends and family, reflecting on Chavez.

Francia, Nestor (2003) Que Piensa Chávez, Caracas: Ediciones del Autor

One of Chavez's admirers explains the thinking and ideology of Chavez.

Garcia Ponce, Guillermo (2004) El Golpe de Estado del 11 de Abril, Caracas: Comando Político de la Revolución

One of the leaders of Venezuela's communist party provides a (pro-government) inside account of how the April 2002 coup unfolded.

Garrido, Alberto (2002) Testimonios de la Revolución Bolivarinana, Caracas: Editiones del Autor

Important background information on some of the main personalities behind Chavez's Bolivarian movement. Many of these have since joined the opposition, in many cases because Chavez became too "leftist" for them. In many others they claim he has become too corrupt and drunk with power.

Harnecker, Marta (2002) Hugo Chávez Frías: Un hombre, un pueblo, Caracas: Associacion Civil Universitarios por la Verdad

translated as: Understanding the Venezuelan Revolution: Hugo Chavez talks to Marta Harnecker, New York: Monthly Review Press (see above)

Harnecker, Marta (2003) Militares junto al pueblo, Caracas: Vadell hnos.

A series of interviews with key military leaders, who were instrumental in defeating the April 2002 coup attempt. Important for understanding why there is a movement of progressives in Venezuela's military and what they are thinking and why they support Chavez.

Heydra, Pastor (2003) Las Promesas de Hugo Chávez, Caracas: Los Libros de El Nacional

Another opposition treatise on why Chavez has supposedly failed. Useful and detailed historical information.

La Fuente, Sandra and Alfredo Mesa (2004) El acertijo de abril: Relato periodistico de la breve caida de Hugo Chavez, Caracas: Editorial Debate

Perhaps one of the most complete accounts of the April 2002 coup attempt. It leaves out key information that implicated the opposition, though, and thus leads to a distorted and "balanced" view in which no one seems guilty of anything.

Marcano, Cristina and Alberto Barrera Tyszka (2004) Hugo Chávez sin Uniforme, Caracas: Debate

The spanish edition of the above-named biography of Chávez.

Medina, Medófilo (2001) El elegido Presidente Chávez: Un nuevo sistema político, Bogota: Ediciones Aurora

A useful account of how Chavez came into office.

Medina, Medófilo and Margarita Lopez-Maya (2003) Venezuela: confrontación social y polarización, Bogota: Ediciones Aurora

In effect, the continuation of the 2001 Medina book, emphasizing the history of conflict and confrontation 2001-2003.

Sanz, Rodolfo (2003) Dialéctica de Una Victoria, Caracas

A pro-Chavez history of the Chavez presidency. It is quite general and poorly referenced.

Bibliography copiled and annotated by Gregory Wilpert