Simón Bolívar: The Latin American Hero Many Americans Don’t Know

World

Simón Bolívar lived a sweeping, epic life. The Latin American independence hero swanned around the salons of revolutionary-era Paris, skulked in the Guyanese jungle and enlisted the aid of roughriding cowboys and mercenary privateers, among others, in his campaigns. He wooed myriad women while remaining utterly devoted to the principles of the Enlightenment. He was born into one of the highest rungs of the Spanish colonial elite — a plantation-owning family in Caracas — but would be the man who would go on to liberate Spanish America’s slaves. He is lionized now across the continent as the courageous general who won Latin America‘s wars of independence, but he died in 1830, at the age of 47, humbled by failures and derided by numerous critics. Bolívar’s many-chambered life is the subject of a recent critically acclaimed biography,Bolívar: American Liberator, by the Peruvian-American writer Marie Arana. Arana spoke…

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