The Best Books on Latin America of 2021

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Are you looking for resources to aid you in learning about Latin America and its rich history? Whether you want to celebrate your Latin American heritage, or you are interested in discovering a new perspective, books about Latin America are not sparse by any means. This a list of the best books on Latin America, which is not limited to literature, history, philosophy, politics, or anthropology.

This list of the top Latin American books considers the evolving politics and culture of the countries. It discusses the vital, intense, and valuable history of Latin America through the lens of both fact and fiction.

If you are hoping to find a fresh perspective, look no further! An authentic history of Latin America is within the pages of the books on this list!

If you want to just get back to studying, get our top pick book about Latin America here.

Our Top Favorite
Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
Our Top Runner Up
Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America
Our Top Value Pick
Forgotten Continent: A History of the New Latin America
Book Title
Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
Born in Blood & Fire: A Concise History of Latin America
Forgotten Continent: A History of the New Latin America
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Favorite
Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
Book Title
Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Runner Up
Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America
Book Title
Born in Blood & Fire: A Concise History of Latin America
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Value Pick
Forgotten Continent: A History of the New Latin America
Book Title
Forgotten Continent: A History of the New Latin America
Prime Eligible?

Last update: 2021-07-28

Our Favorites for Best Books About Latin America

Our favorite books on Latin American come from a variety of sources, and all present a unique perspective. The books you will find in this section aim to uncover the real history of Latin America. This history is authentic and told from the perspectives of people you may not be familiar with. This section aims to present readers with information from unique voices like the Aztecs.

Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent by Eduardo Galeano

Open Veins of Latin America is a keystone text in Latin America history and scholarship. This text is a compilation of data, history, and research, written in an eloquent, story-like fashion. Now, with an introduction written by Isabella Allende, Galeano’s book is heightened as a pivotal text in terms of Latin American’s social and cultural history.

What Makes It Unique:

  • Open Veins of Latin America is divided into sections according to Latin America’s five centuries of exploitation based on the region’s various natural resources that have been continuously plundered.
  • Galeano’s text is written with rich detail and eloquent prose, unlike many history books.
  • This book uncovers the “real” history, the open veins of Latin America, providing readers with an authentic account.
  • This text provides a history of Latin America without lies and false renditions of a purified historical narrative.

Why Choose This Latin America Book:

  • Though the text was initially banned in a variety of Latin nations, many readers can appreciate Galeano’s dive into the underdeveloped history of Latin America.
  • The text goes in-depth into several important events in Latin American History. This includes Paraguay’s invasion, the invasion of 1989 in Panama, and many other events.
  • The book provides several chapters on modern-day Latin America. This mainly centers on the twentieth century and America’s desires for Latin American resources.
  • Several readers referred to Eduardo Galeano as an extraordinarily talented and honest storyteller.
  • This text is a classic in Latin American culture and should be read by Latina Americans everywhere.
On Sale
Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
  • Galeano, Eduardo (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 317 Pages - 07/30/1997 (Publication Date) - Monthly Review Press (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-07-28


The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico by Miguel Leon-Portilla

Told from the perspective of native Aztec descendants, The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico rewrites the story that Spanish victors have said for hundreds of years. Taken from the Aztecs’ oral tradition, Miguel Leon-Portilla exposes the inaccuracies told by Spanish victors. This is one of the best books on Latin American politics.

What Makes It Unique:

  • For anyone wanting to better understand the history of Latin America, its anthropological, cultural, and political qualities, this is a great book to help illustrate Mexico’s conquest.
  • The Broken Spears takes into consideration the narrative account of the Aztecs and other native Mexican groups.
  • This text fills in a lot of missing gaps and pieces to create a more well-rounded, comprehensive, and vital story about Mexico and Latin American culture.
  • This Latin America book offers glimpses into the lives of Aztec people, unveiling an archive of marginalized voices.

Why Choose This Latin America Book:

  • Within this book, Miguel Leon-Portilla gives readers a unique perspective of a voice that is often not heard. He provides details on various events using written accounts by the native people.
  • The author provides readers with a clear understanding of how the Aztec and Spanish culture came to be intertwined, as many may see today.
  • The book paints images of the accounts Aztecs faced using graphic descriptions and pictures. Many readers find that though the text is simple, it elicits extreme emotions.
On Sale
The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico
  • Beacon Press MA
  • Miguel Leon-Portilla (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-07-28


Runner Ups for Best Latin America Books

Although these texts are not at the very top of our lists, they are still extraordinarily essential and heavily recommended. This section provides readers with varying types of books. This includes fiction and even traditional textbook style.

Born in Blood & Fire: A Concise History of Latin America by John Charles Chasteen

Currently in its third edition, Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America by John Charles Chasteen tells the story of over twenty Latin American Countries across the span of six centuries. One of the best Latin American books about history and culture, this text unveils and invokes an authentic Latin American experience. Telling the story of exploitation, racism, colonization, and social constructs, John Charles Chasteen’s book is a comprehensive narrative about Latin American history, culture, and politics.

What Makes It Unique:

  • This book is well researched and traces Latin American history up through the 21st century.
  • Chasteen writes a mixture of analysis, narrative, and compelling storytelling, making this text fun to read even as the text covers complicated and veritable historical subject matter.
  • The author tells a condensed and comprehensive story of Latin America, and the text is transparent and clear.
  • The text is explanative, offering a clear understanding of historical events, revealing how the dominant narrative has marginalized and excluded the narrative of real history.

Why Choose This Latin America Book:

  • Many readers attest to this being an excellent read. They find it not only informative but intriguing.
  • Born in Blood & Fire is heavily detailed and contains information on a variety of subjects. These subjects include the economy, politics, and more.
  • This often a book used in classrooms for high school studies. Study questions in each chapter aid students in getting a deeper understanding of Latin culture.
  • In the opening pages, it features a timeline to highlight some significant events of Mexico, Brazil, Argentina.
On Sale
Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America
  • Chasteen, John Charles (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages - 06/21/2016 (Publication Date) - W. W. Norton & Company (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-07-28


The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolãno

Written by Chilean author Roberto Bolãno, The Savage Detectives was initially published in 1998 and then translated into English in 2008. The novel is Broken into three sections. These sections explore the relationship of two 1970s poets who are in search of a 1920s Mexican poet. This is one of the best Latina American novels in the 21st century.

What Makes It Unique:

  • The Savage Detectives attempt to resurrect and preserve an outdated literary movement, and the magical realism of the novel is poignant and exciting.
  • Taking place in Mexico City, the text portrays the vitality of Latin American culture.
  • The narrative shifts and jumps make the text interesting while also accentuating the magical realism specific to Latin American literature.

Why Choose This Latin America Book:

  • Bolãno’s book encapsulates the intensity of Latin culture through visceral realism.
  • With the complexities of narrative shifts, the text is also a great representation of how to situate characters in time and place.
  • If you enjoy reading fiction, The Savage Detectives encapsulates the reality of Mexico through the experiences of a Latin American native.
On Sale
The Savage Detectives: A Novel
  • Picador USA
  • Roberto Bolano (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-07-28


One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude is a pivotal landmark text and one of the best Latin American books. Written by Gabriel García Márquez, the Columbian author tells the multi-generational story of the Buendia family and their lives in a fictional town in Colombia. Even today, this novel is still one of the best Latin American books in the 21st century.

What Makes It Unique:

  • It is a poignant representation of Latin American culture and uses the magical realist style specific to Latinx literature.
  • It was published during the Latin American Literature boom of the 1960s and 1970s.
  • While the Modernist movement influenced the text, it is also a great depiction of the Cuban Avant-Garde movement.
  • The novel is a beautiful representation of exclusion and separation, which accentuates the history of Latin America.

Why Choose This Latin America Book:

  • This book continues to capture readers even over forty years later, which is an excellent reminder of how powerful the open veins of Latin American culture is.
  • The language and story are a great representation of Latin American history, making this one of the best literary works and Latin American books.
On Sale
One Hundred Years of Solitude (Modern Classics)
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-07-28


Value Picks for Best Books About Latin America

Last but not least, the Latin American value picks are far from the bottom of the barrel. These texts offer readers an abundance of information. This includes information on the current state of Latin America and a look into how people lived during the Mexican Revolution.

Forgotten Continent: A History of the New Latin America by Michael Reid

Forgotten Continent: A History of New Latin America is a remarkable test that explores the history and current state of contemporary culture and politics in Latin America. This is one of the best comprehensive Latin American books that emphasize the disparities and inequalities of the nations. This is a great book which opens up about Latin American history and culture.

What Makes It Unique:

  • This book provides excellent insight into how Latin America has changed throughout history.
  • Reid’s book helps offer a history of Latin American that many are probably unfamiliar with. It is evident that he has done extensive research and has used his past experiences to write an excellent text.
  • The author traces events and histories from over the past several hundred years before offering more specific details about the 2000s and how outside political structures affected Latin America as a whole.

Why Choose This Latin America Book:

  • This book offers clarity and in-depth information about the history of Latin America, evaluating power structures, rulers, and the limitations of the country’s political structures.
  • This is a great Latin America book to help both Latinx people and other individuals honor, respect, and understand Latin America. It provides in-depth background on the history, which has shaped the economy and politics of Latin America.
  • This is also an excellent text if you are looking for more information on economics, of course, with an emphasis on Latin history.
On Sale
Forgotten Continent: A History of the New Latin America
  • Reid, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 440 Pages - 11/14/2017 (Publication Date) - Yale University Press (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-07-28


The Underdogs: A Novel of the Mexican Revolution by Mariano Azuela

In The Underdogs: A Novel of the Mexican Revolution, Mariano Azuela writes about the Mexican Revolution in this novel about Mexican poverty and political idealism. This is one of the best Latin American books in the 21st century about Mexican culture and politics.

What Makes It Unique:

  • The Underdogs are primarily based on accounts that were experienced by the author, Mariano Azuela. It is centered around the main character Demetrio Macias, a peasant who must flee his home for his own safety.
  • This text resonates with the cyclical power struggle in Mexico, making it a great representative literary text.
  • The characters are unique and empathetic, providing a deeper understanding of the sociopolitical context of Mexico and Latin American politics.
  • The author uses the book’s forward to describe the climate of Mexico. It contains a history that spans from the Spanish Conquest to the Mexican Revolution.

Why Choose This Latin America Book:

  • The novel allows readers to engage more actively with the Mexican Revolution and Latin American culture.
  • The text allows readers to better understand and empathize with those who endured the revolution.
  • It is an excellent fictional account of the reality of Latin American culture, and this novel is one of the best books on Latin American politics.
  • The book does an excellent job portraying the country and the character’s evolution.
On Sale
The Underdogs: A Novel of the Mexican Revolution (Penguin Classics)
  • Azuela, Mariano (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages - 07/29/2008 (Publication Date) - Penguin Classics (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-07-28


How to Choose the Best Book About Latin America for You

Choosing the best text can be hard. Though you may know what you want at a high level, finding it can be a daunting task. This section is meant to provide you with some helpful tips for finding the perfect books. There are some key characteristics that all texts should have.

Authenticity and transparency are essential qualities when it comes to exposing the real, genuine narrative of Latin America. When it comes to choosing the most recommended books on Latin American politics, culture, and history, it comes down to the efficacy of the author and research.

There are several questions that you can ask to determine if the text will tell an authentic and genuine history.

Is the text written by a person of Latin American/Hispanic descent and culture? Is the author writing about the authentic history, the history that has been white-washed or marginalized? Be sure to read texts that expose the real history of Latin American culture and history.

An author’s background may also play a large part in the information that the novel portrays. For example, if you are reading books that claim to provide a first-hand account of life and history in Latin America, which is written by an American, you should be skeptical.

Moreover, the best Latin American novels in the 21st century—or any century—should be written by authors who are either of Latin American descent or honoring Latin American culture and experience. The best Latin American books privilege the veritable experience of Latin Americans. Books hold a far greater value when written by individuals who have a deep love for the culture or who actively live it regularly.

Overall, look for books that speak directly to a history of Latin America that is real.

Wrapping Up the Best Books About Latin America

Putting everything together, in this guide we reviewed the following:

Our Top Favorite
Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
Our Top Runner Up
Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America
Our Top Value Pick
Forgotten Continent: A History of the New Latin America
Book Title
Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
Born in Blood & Fire: A Concise History of Latin America
Forgotten Continent: A History of the New Latin America
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Favorite
Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
Book Title
Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Runner Up
Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America
Book Title
Born in Blood & Fire: A Concise History of Latin America
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Value Pick
Forgotten Continent: A History of the New Latin America
Book Title
Forgotten Continent: A History of the New Latin America
Prime Eligible?

Last update: 2021-07-28

When it comes to Latin American culture, it is important to consider how Latin American voices have been marginalized, excluded, dismissed, and overlooked. The histories that have emerged about Latin American culture have prioritized a false narrative, but the books on this list attempt to magnify and illuminate stories and voices that honor an authentic history of Latin American.

Open Veins of Latin America is one favorite that most readers look to for a wealth of information. The author tells the harsh truths of Latin American History, which force readers to question everything they have been taught in the past. If this book doesn’t catch your eye, there are several others to choose from.

Forgotten Continent: A History of the New Latin America is another excellent text which is even used as required reading for some courses. The text provides a solid economic and political view of Latin America over time.

Outside of this list, look for books that open veins of Latin American history and culture, offering exposure to the people who have been dismissed and silenced. The books on this list are merely representative of Latin American cultural texts. By no means is this list the most comprehensive, but it is a great starting point to help you gain interest and understanding of the best books about Latin America!

You will undoubtedly enjoy reading the best books on Latin American politics and culture!

Did you enjoy this post? If so, check out our other history book reviews here.

Here are a few other history book reviews you may find interesting:

> The Best American History Books of All Time

> The Best Canadian History Books

> The Best Chinese History Books

> The Best Greek History Books

> The Best Japanese History Books

> The Best Korean History Books

> The Best Roman History Books

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