In this very good biography, historian David Bushnell has produced an immensely readable and balanced account of the famous Liberator, Simón Bolívar. The book is part of the growing Library of World Biography series, which is intended to provide students and the educated general reader with authoritative, engaging introductions to the life and work of major figures in world history. As Peter Stearns states in his preface, the editorial mission of this series is “to show how individuals helped shape the society around them . . . [and] capture the individuality and drama that mark the human character” (p. vii). This book succeeds on both counts. Bushnell’s version of Bolívar’s life renders a complicated and controversial era accessible and comprehensible. He strikes an appropriate balance between chronological narrative and an explication of the debates that have arisen over various events and actions in the Liberator’s life. His book follows the...

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