Early reviews for “Bolívar: American Liberator”

“Finally, Bolivar gets the sweeping biography he deserves. He was the greatest leader in Latin American history, and his tale is filled with lessons about leadership and passion. This book reads like a wonderful novel but is researched like a masterwork of history.” (Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs )

“This is a magnificent story. Deeply researched and written with clarity, honesty, and verve, Marie Arana’s book tells the life of one of the greatest heroes and founders in world history. North Americans who know only of George Washington will thrill to read the epic adventures of his South American counterpart. As fantastic as Bolivar’s life appears, ‘it is not,’ as Arana says of Latin America’s bloody past in general, ‘magical realism. It is history. It is true.’” (Gordon S. Wood, author of Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815, Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University )

“With the eye and ear of a novelist, Marie Arana chants the epic of Bolivar with love, zest, and compelling authority.” (Walter A. McDougall, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Alloy-Ansin Professor of International Relations, University of Pennsylvania )

“Simon Bolivar has found the perfect biographer in Marie Arana, a literary journalist, brilliant novelist of South America, and wise historian as well. Her portrait of Bolivar is human and moving; she has written a powerful and epic life and times.” (Evan Thomas, author of Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Struggle to Save the World )

“Inspired. . . . Arana ably captures the brash brilliance of this revered and vilified leader.” (Kirkus Reviews )

“Arana is an indefatigable researcher, a perceptive historian, and a luminous writer, as shown in her defining, exhilarating biography of the great South American liberator Simón Bolívar. . . .

The good of this meticulous new account of Bolívar’s exciting, to say nothing of consequential, life and times is that such a robust, dynamic, and, more importantly, easily accessible narrative goes to great lengths to rectify the North American unfamiliarity with Bolívar. . . . Her understanding of the man behind the fame—and behind the hostility that enveloped him in his later years—brings this biography to the heights of the art and craft of life-writing.” (Booklist (starred review) )


“The George Washington of South America cuts a dashing though dark-edged and ultimately tragic figure in this rousing biography. Peruvian American journalist Arana (American Chica) chronicles Gen. Simón Bolívar’s struggle against the Spanish Empire in the 1810s and ’20s through several dizzying cycles of battlefield victory, triumphal procession, demoralizing reversal and squalid exile, before he finally drove imperial forces out of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Her vivid portrait shows us a charismatic man of high ideals, fiery oratory, unflagging energy and resolve, bold strategies, and a romantic aura—”he rode, ragged and shirtless . . . his wild long hair riding the wind”—that women found irresistible. . . . Arana’s dramatic narrative is appropriately grand and enthralling, and it makes Bolívar an apt embodiment of the ambitions and disappointments of the revolutionary age.” (Publisher’s Weekly)