Jerry Cooney died on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Longview, Washington, the victim of lung cancer. The date of his passing is significant, for to Paraguayans it commemorates the Battle of Cerro Corã and the end of the gran epopeya nacional. That in itself makes for a fitting and ironic final statement, for Jerry Cooney was for many years a primary exponent of US scholarship on Paraguay.

He was born in 1940 in the tiny town of Opportunity, in the eastern section of the state of Washington, a cold desert of a locale, windswept and largely devoid of the bright green vegetation that so fascinated him in Paraguay. He had a very practical childhood that focused on farming, baseball, and the classics of Western literature. His father, who was a sometimes professor of agriculture at the local community college, impressed on...

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