In The Rarified Air of the Modern, Willie Hiatt tells the engaging story of powered flight in Peru, from the 1910 flight of Jorge Chávez Dartnell as the first person to fly across the Alps through the jet age. Hiatt examines how Peruvians confronted technological modernity through the pursuit of aviation. Although Peru suffered from poor infrastructure, scant resources, dearth of technological expertise, and mountainous and jungle terrain, Peruvian elites and masses came to understand what the airplane represented in the modern world. The author defines modernity as the language through which Latin America came to experience science, technology, industrialization, and other “Western” trappings (p. 9). According to Hiatt, Peruvians felt a sense of self-imposed backwardness while embracing the rise of this new technology. He asserts that “despite the excitement of aviation's possibility, Peruvians experienced anxiety over economic, technical, and infrastructure...

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