Best Nonfiction Book of 2019 (“Top of the List”) by Booklist, the American Library Association
“I thought I knew history, but I knew nothing about what is in Silver, Sword, and Stone by Marie Arana. This brilliant American has done a helluva lot to clarify the history of the Americas and deserves much praise and gratitude for it.” ~David McCullough
“Monumental, stupendous. . . . a must-read for anyone who wants to understand this hemisphere.” ~Julia Alvarez
“Meticulously researched, the book’s greatest strengths are the power of its epic narrative, the beauty of its prose and its rich portrayals of character. . . . a marvelous book.” ~The Washington Post
“A lively and learned account of Latin America, ingeniously structured.” ~The New York Times
Against the background of a thousand years of vivid history, acclaimed writer Marie Arana tells the timely and timeless stories of three contemporary Latin Americans whose lives represent three driving forces that have shaped the character of the region: exploitation (silver), violence (sword), and religion (stone).
In Silver, Sword, and Stone, Arana seamlessly weaves these stories with the history of the past millennium to explain three enduring themes that have defined Latin America since pre-Columbian times: the foreign greed for its mineral riches, an ingrained propensity to violence, and the abiding power of religion. What emerges is a vibrant portrait of a people whose lives are increasingly intertwined with our own.
“Marie Arana’s monumental, stupendous new history of Latin America, Silver Sword, and Stone, is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand this hemisphere and our current crises.” ~ Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies
“Through the power and beauty of her writing, Arana brings extraordinary clarity to one of the most complex regions of the world. I have never before read a book of such astonishing breadth and intricate depth, capturing both the magnificent sweep of history and the gripping immediacy of journalism. The stories she tells will break your heart and blow your mind, but they will also give you a much clearer understanding of Latin America and a deep sense of wonder at the strength and resilience of its people.” ~ Candice Millard, author of Hero of the Empire“Arana’s strength is the power and passion of her storytelling, and her explanation of what has shaped Latin America over the past half-millennium has the ring of truth. . . . A marvelous book.” ~ Tom Gjelten, The Washington Post
“Gets at the identity conundrum of Latin America with storytelling that is both clear-eyed and evocative. . . . The sweep and soar of her narrative recalls Victor Hugo. . . . Arana gives us an epic story of stories — of regions conjoined by desire for treasure, power and control, and of the emotional mortar which binds people together through endurance.” ~ Marcela Davison Aviles, National Public Radio“An elegant and incisive writer and observer, Marie Arana has given us a thoughtful and revealing portrait of the fabled—and too-little-understood—world of Latin America. Combining history with contemporary reportage, Silver, Sword & Stone is compelling reading.” ~ Jon Meacham, author of The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels“Like a condor soaring above the Andes, Marie Arana gives a sweeping overview of Latin American history. History is usually written by the winners, but this book throbs with passion for the victims and underdogs. It also celebrates the cultural triumphs, exuberance and generosity that make Latin America so lovable.” ~ John Hemming, author The Conquest of the Incas“To trace the soul of a continent is an extraordinary feat, and Marie Arana does it with scholarly precision, moral thoroughness and elegance of style. For anyone interested in understanding—really understanding—what Latin America is and where it comes from, Silver, Sword and Stone has to be the first step.” ~ Juan Gabriel Vásquez, author of The Sound of Things Falling
“Silver, Sword, and Stone, as Arana points out, is not a straightforward history of Latin America. Neither is it journalism. Rather, it’s a hybrid, combining learned historical analysis with in-depth reporting and political commentary. . . . [And] an informed and authoritative voice, one that deserves a wide audience.” ~ Álvaro Enrigue, The New York Times
“Peruvian-born author Marie Arana takes us directly to the mysterious and misunderstood center of Latin America in her latest book. . . . The sweep is enormous and complex, but Arana’s storytelling and her obvious compassion guide us through the past millennium as an absorbing, even poignant, kaleidoscopic journey to places it behooves us all to comprehend.” ~ Yvette Benavides, San Antonio News-Express“Arana’s fluency in Latin American history blossoms in this unique and arresting inquiry into three ‘crucibles’ which have shaped Latin American life for centuries. . . . In this masterwork of exploration, connection, and analysis, Arana offers a fresh, gripping, and redefining perspective on a vital and magnificent region betrayed by toxic greed and vicious tyranny.” ~ Booklist (starred review)