Simón Bolívar's Quest for Glory

Simón Bolívar's Quest for Glory

Simón Bolívar's Quest for Glory

Simón Bolívar's Quest for Glory

Synopsis

Earning glory on the fields of battle, Simon Bolivar (1783- 1830) was one of the most influential and enigmatic figures of Latin American history. Most North Americans know little of "the Liberator" who freed South America from Spanish rule from 1810 to 1826. Richard W. Slatta and Jane Lucas De Grummond bring forth the entire life and legacy of Simon Bolivar, with special attention to the ups and the downs of his military career in Bolivar's Quest for Glory. Bolivar's life contained all the makings of an epic war hero: repeated comebacks from defeat, flashes of military genius, tremendous mood swings, dogged persistence, a near-manic quest for glory, and fall from political grace. He exhibited both military leadership and foolhardiness. Egomaniacal, he strived for military might and political power. The tragedy of his life and his political legacy remain hotly debated, but no one would deny this man's historical significance. Drawing from an immense corpus of writings left behind by Bolivar, his allies, and his enemies, the authors transport the reader back to the life and times of the Liberator, introducing lesser known people who fought on both sides of the conflict and showing how Bolivar did not win Spanish American independence all on his own. Voices of the past ring from this rich narrative-expressions of admiration for Bolivar's courage, leadership, and vision, as well as proclamations of the leader's failures and weaknesses. The first ever biography to suggest that Bolivar suffered from bipolar disorder, Bolivar's Quest for Glory treads new ground and shows how the conflicts he faced during the independence era set a political pattern followed by much of Latin America for the next century. Scholars and fans of military history, anyone interested in the development of modern Latin America, and readers of great biography will all welcome this book.

Excerpt

Born on December 30, 1906, in central Pennsylvania, Jane Lucas De Grummond grew up in a family of the “laborin’ class,” as her father used to say. She worked her way through college and taught for twelve years at Tryone High School in Pennsylvania. She began graduate work in history at Louisiana State University in 1942 and completed her doctoral studies four years later. The first woman to receive a doctorate in history at LSU, De Grummond also became the first woman to teach history there. Over the next three decades, she taught thousands of students before her retirement in 1976.

Professor De Grummond specialized in Latin American history. Many of her graduate students came from Central and South America. The ideas and information that they shared with her and the theses they wrote added to our knowledge of the Western Hemisphere.

De Grummond took her first research trip to Venezuela in 1947, the year of Richard W. Slatta’s birth. She intended to write a biography of the llanero caudillo José Antonio Páez. The Venezuelan scholar Vicente Lecuna, however, advised: “Don’t write about him. Write about Bolívar.” De Grummond continued gathering material on Bolívar during several subsequent research trips to South America.

Completing five books in all, De Grummond wrote about ambassadors, generals, revolutionaries, buccaneers, and rebels. Over a period of three decades, she wrote Envoy to Caracas (1951), The Baratarians and the Battle of New Orleans (1961), and Renate Beluche: Smuggler, Privateer, and Patriot (1983). She also edited Caracas Diary (1954) and coauthored, with Beulah de Verieré Smith Watts, Solitude: Life on a Louisiana Plantation, 1788–1968 (1970), an account of the plantation home of her husband, Ernest De Grummond.

De Grummond had the ability, tenacity, and durability to interpret the dusty old manuscripts, proclamations, treaties, diaries, and letters that she uncovered in a variety of collections. Venezuela recognized her efforts by inscribing her name in its National Pantheon of Heroes in Caracas. She completed the essential narrative of Bolívar’s life during the 1980s. At the . . .

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