Labyrinths Jorge Luis Borges
The best short stories, by the father of modern Latin American fiction.
The Uttermost End of the Earth Lucas Bridges
An interesting history of the settlement of Tierra del Fuego in the 19th century by British missionaries. Includes some fascinating anecdotes about their interaction with the native Indians.
Bad Times in Buenos Aires: A Writer’s Adventures in Argentina Miranda France
The author shares her experiences as a young freelance journalist living in Argentina in the early 1990s.
The Real Life of Eva Peron Nicholas Fraser
A well-researched, historically accurate and unbiased view of Evita’s life.
Santa Evita Tomas Eloy Martinez
A highly readable exploration of the myth of Eva Peron in Argentine society.
Bolivian Diaries Che Guevara D James and H Butterfield
These 1966 and 1967 diaries were written during Che’s attempt to establish a guerrilla insurrectionary movement in Bolivia.
Sons of the Moon: A Journey in the Andes Henry Shuckman
An account of the author’s trip to visit the Aymara – a people living in a remote, isolated region of the mountains in Bolivia.
Dona Flor and her Two Husbands Jorge Amado
Amado’s lively narrative takes the reader on a tour through Bahia using the story of a young woman haunted by her late husband’s ghost.
Rebellion in the Backlands Euclides Da Cunha
Da Cunha reflects on his experience of the aftermath of the Canudos war: a historical episode of 1896-97 that culminated in the extermination of a religious sect that had effectively denied the legitimacy of the Brazilian Republic.
The Testament John Grisham
An aging multimillionaire knows his greedy children are circling like vultures as he waits to die. As his beneficiary he chooses an unknown missionary living deep in the wilds of Brazil. Accurate descriptions of the Brazilian Pantanal abound.
The Hour of the Star Clarice Lispector
This lucid, charming book tells the story of Macabea, a typist who does not know how to type. She represents the under-classes in Brazil. The book gives a clear insight into life in the country.
The House of Spirits Isabel Allende
An epic novel tracing Chile’s turbulent history through the story of the tragedies befalling successive generations of females within a family.
In Patagonia Bruce Chatwin
Fascinated by Patagonia since an early childhood lust for his grandmother’s scrap of hairy Giant Sloth skin, Chatwin is intrigued by odd miners, Darwin, the Welsh and the log cabin built by Butch Cassidy. (The book covers Chilean and Argentine Patagonia, the famous Milodon Cave is actually in Chile).
Curfew Jose Donoso
Accounts of life under the Pinochet dictatorship.
The Nanny and the Iceberg Ariel Dorfman
A humorous account of an exiled Chilean returning to his motherland following the end of the dictatorship, and his struggles to win the affections of his father and a beautiful Chilean girl.
Between Extremes Brian Keenan and John McCarthy
A well-written testament to friendship by Keenan and McCarthy, whose dream of making a million from yak farming in Chilean Patagonia was born in their shared Beirut prison cell.
Clandestine in Chile Gabriel García Márquez
A picture of life under Pinochet, told by a film director who returns, after 12 years, under a false identity.
Twenty Love Songs and a Song of Despair Pablo Neruda
Some of the most beautiful love poems ever written. Every Chilean can recite at least half a dozen of these poems.
Eight Men and a Duck Nick Thorpe
A very readable book about the author’s trip from mainland Chile to Easter Island in a reed boat made on Lake Titicaca.
COLOMBIA & VENEZUELA
The Lost Steps Alejo Carpentier
A composer, fleeing an empty existence in New York City, embarks on a journey to an area relatively untouched by civilization – the upper reaches of the Amazon.
Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel García Márquez
A touching story of love and mortality set in a traditional Colombian coastal town at the turn of the 19th Century.
One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez
An epic magical realist novel that tells the story of generations of the Buendias family – founders of Macondo, a remote Colombian town.
The Fruit Palace Charles Nicholl
The Fruit Palace of the title sells only fruit, but it happens to be in Santa Marta, the small town at the centre of Colombia’s cocaine trade. Nicholl relates his quest for “The Great Cocaine Story” with madcap energy and vividness in this classic travel book.
In Trouble Again: A Journey between the Orinoco and the Amazon Redmond O’Hanlon
O’Hanlon takes us into the bug-ridden rainforest with a detailed account of his adventures as well as the flora and fauna that he encounters.
Our Man in Havana: An Entertainment Graham Greene
Greene makes light of spying during the Cold War. A vacuum cleaner dealer is recruited as a spy for a secret British organization in Cuba. The main character struggles to keep his life in check and his conscience within bounds.
Selected Poems Nicolas Guillen
Fidel’s official poet laureate of the Cuban revolution.
The Old Man and the Sea Ernest Hemmingway
Hemingway was at his shining best when he wrote about the fearless old man, Santiago, and his epic personal battle with a hooked marlin. Inspirational stuff even if you’re not a fisherman.
Cuban Music: From Son and Rumba to the Buena Vista Social Club and Timba Cubana Maya Roy
An account of Cuban music through the ages; includes an extremely interesting and updated section on contemporary Cuban music from a social perspective.
Cuba: The Test of Time Jean Stubbs
A short analysis of the first 30 years of the Cuban Revolution from the historical and economic viewpoint. Still fascinating and useful even without the upheaval of the ‘90s.
The President Miguel Angel Asturias
A dark, often harrowing account of life under the Guatemalan dictator, Estrado Cabrera, which denounces the atrocities committed by those who held absolute power. A real life tale that, disturbingly, creates some parallels with Orwell’s factitious novel 1984.
The Lost Chronicles of the Maya Kings David Drew
Explores the collapse of the Maya Empire, including a fascinating and well-crafted portrait of the Maya world.
Selected Writings Ruben Dario
Originally from Nicaragua, Dario is considered the father of Latin American poetry.
Green Mansions W H Hudson
A poignant meditation on the loss of wilderness. First published in 1904.
I, Rigoberta Menchu Rigoberta Menchu
Interviews with a Guatemalan indigenous leader and winner of a Nobel Peace Prize. She discusses her country’s political situation and the resulting violence, which has claimed the lives of her brother, mother, and father.
The Full Montezuma Peter Moore
An Australian backpacker’s odyssey through Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean with the Girl Next Door, dodging political riots, cockroaches, and hurricanes along the way.
Jaguar Smile: A Nicaraguan Journey Salman Rushdie
Travel tales and social commentary set in Nicaragua. Stirring and original in its simple descriptions of the country that provides an impressionistic picture of the country in bright, patchwork colors unavailable in usual journalistic dispatches.
Time among the Maya: Travels in Belize, Guatemala & Mexico Ronald Wright
An entertaining and educational travel book about the Maya region. Highly recommended for those interested in the ancient and modern Maya.
Like Water for Chocolate Laura Esquivel
Set in turn-of-the-century Mexico, it tells the tale of the youngest of three daughters whose fate is to remain single so that they can take care of her mother in old age. Forbidden love and family traditions are mixed together with a hint of magical realism.
The Old Gringo Carlos Fuentes
Interweaving politics, history and the mysterious death of writer Ambrose Bierce, Carlos Fuentes’ novel is a love story set within the rebel army of Pancho Villa during the Mexican Civil War of 1913.
The Death of Artemio Cruz Carlos Fuentes
Chronicling a family history from the pre-Revolution period through to 1960s allows Fuentes to show the failure of the Mexican Revolution.
The Labyrinth of Solitude Octavio Paz
An attempt to define the identity of the Mexican people through culture and history.
Tinisima Elena Poniatowska
A biography of the Italian-American photographer Tina Modotti, focusing largely on the Mexican cultural revolution and its leading protagonists, including Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.
Deep Rivers Jose Maria Arguedas
An account of the influence of pre-Hispanic cultures on modern life in Peru. Good descriptions of Cusco and the Sacred Valley.
Conquest of the Incas John Hemming
A readable and authoritative book of Pizarro’s conquest of Peru and his search for El Dorado in the 1530s. An astonishing account of war strategies and upsets between unequal forces with vastly different technologies. It gives a real understanding into present-day relationships between Spanish and native peoples in South America.
Exploring Cuzco Peter Frost
An excellent book giving up-to-date information on where to go and what to see in and around Cusco. (Best bought on arrival in Cusco from one of the shops around the main square).
General Song (Canto General) Pablo Neruda
The Latin American continent through history and Poetry. In section 2, The Heights of Machu Picchu, Neruda chronicles his own journey to the ancient Incan citadel.
The Dancer Upstairs Nicholas Shakespeare
A thriller and detective story set in the era of the Shining Path guerrilla movement
Touching the Void Joe Simpson
The story (recently made into a film) of a climbing accident in Northern Peru when Simpson’s partner was forced to cut the rope.
The White Rock Hugh Thomson
An exploration of the Inca heartland. Part travelogue, part history lesson – British filmmaker Thomson relates his travels through Peru and Bolivia.
Cochineal Red Hugh Thomson
A journey back from the world of the Incas to the first dawn of Andean civilization.
Peregrination of a Pariah: 1833-1834 Flora Tristan
A lively and fascinating eye-witness account of life in 18th-century Peru.
Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter Mario Vargas Llosa
Highly original novel set in 1950’s Lima. The anxieties of an aspiring writer, his fears, doubts, failures and experiences are conveyed using Peruvian society as a microcosm of Latin America. (There are many more excellent novels by this highly acclaimed author).
The Trail to Titicaca Rupert Atlee
A bicycle journey through Chile, Argentina and Bolivia in aid of Leukemia Research.
Reasons of State Alejo Carpentier
A novel that looks into the classic despotic Latin American dictator.
Papillon Henri Charriere
The author’s memoirs, now considered to be an amalgam of many stories from the forçats condemned to the notorious penal colony in French Guiana. A bestseller in its time.
The Voyage of the Beagle Charles Darwin
A landmark of natural history, Darwin’s account of a voyage in 1831 to map the coast of South America.
One River: Exploration & Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest Wade Davis
Davis is an ethno-botanist interested in the native use of plants. He has a rare ability to mix technical science writing with a deep knowledge of history, culture and politics and make it flow into coherent narrative. A must for anyone interested in the cultures and history of the Amazon basin.
The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts Louis De Bernières
Set in a fictitious Latin American country, this novel offers all the tragedy, ribaldry, and humor Bernières can muster from a debauched military, a clueless oligarchy, and an unconventional band of guerrillas. There’s a plague of laughing, a flood of magical cats, and a torture-happy colonel. This is the first of a trilogy, and is followed by Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord and The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman.
Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent Eduardo Galeano
A left-wing masterpiece – though some critics hate it. It touches the heart of capitalism and explores it in a way few have dared. More than a history book, it is a compilation of essays that shows how the ‘strong’ abuse and stand over the ’weak’.
Saddled With Darwin Toby Green
An interesting voyage in the footsteps of Darwin by a young intrepid explorer with a fantastic sense of humor. A good balance of history and adventure.
Motorcycle Diaries: A Journey around South America Che Guevara
Full of high drama and comedy, Che’s book is the story of a remarkable road journey. Moving examples of Guevara’s idealism and solidarity with the oppressed are recounted in a vivid record that provides an insight into Che’s mind. The film version was released in 2004, starring Gael García Bernal.
The Feast of the Goat Mario Vargas Llosa
The best dictatorship novel to come from Latin America. An insight into the life of Rafael Trujillo, who ruled the Dominican Republic with an iron fist between 1930 and 1961.
The Endurance Ernest Shackleton
A first-hand account of the Endurance expedition to the South Pole as the Great War raged in Europe. The ship was crushed by the ice and the men were forced to survive in and escape from one of the world’s most hostile environments.
A Penguin History of Latin America Edwin Williamson
Williamson combines the sensibility and mastery of language of a man of letters with the rigor and depth of knowledge of an academic historian to give us an introduction into Latin America through her history. An extremely readable synthesis.
Conquistadors Michael Wood
Wood describes fairly and sensitively the vast gulf that separated these Bronze Age (Aztec and Inca) cultures from the Western behemoth that overwhelmed and destroyed them, stressing in particular the near total inability of each society to comprehend the morals and values of the other.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. These books have been recommended by our staff though there are many more. Try browsing www.amazon.com. Amazon books also offer a search service for books that may be out of print.
Guidebooks and Maps
Below is a brief summary of some of the publishers that provide guidebooks and maps to Latin America. Their publications are widely available in major bookshops, or online.
Publishers of the South American handbook since 1923, Footprint now produces single country titles too. The most comprehensive guides for budget, up-market and business travelers alike. Compact and updated regularly. Highly recommended.
The Travel Survival Kit series is aimed at the independent traveler. Travel tips, clear street maps and cheap food and accommodation listings make these books good value for money. Lonely Planet also produces phrasebooks, city guides and travel atlases.
Useful off-the-beaten-track information and excellent sections on history, music and literature. What they lack in practical tips Rough Guides make up for in background information.
Glossy, coffee table guides containing excellent photographs and cultural and historical essays.
Aimed at walkers, naturalists and adventurous travelers. More emphasis is laid on useful maps and trail-routes than practicalities. A good read and useful companion to the general travel books.
ITM Road Maps
ITM maps are good if you are travelling to one particular area. They are more detailed and each map is annotated with historical and geographical descriptions.
6 clear maps of Latin America and the Caribbean and are ideal for general use.
Some of the information and data in this dossier above has been collated from the following sources, to who we would like to offer our gratitude.
The South American Handbook 2006, Footprint Handbooks
Mexico and Central American Handbook 2006, Footprint Handbooks
Caribbean Islands Handbook 2006, Footprint Handbooks
Penguin Travel Guides: South America, Penguin / Houghton Mifflen
H Bradt: Backpacking and Trekking in Peru and Bolivia, Bradt Enterprises
H Bradt & R Rachowiecki: Backpacking in Mexico and Central America, Bradt Enterprises
C Hargreaves: Backpacking in Chile and Argentina, Bradt Enterprises
H Dunsterville Branch & others: No Frills Guide to Venezuela, Bradt Enterprises
A Bradbury: Backcountry Brazil, Bradt Enterprises
M Whatmore: The Rough Guide to Guatemala and Belize, Harrap Colombus
H Hatchwell & S Calder: Travellers Central America Survival Kit, Vacation Work
G Crowther: South America on a Shoestring,Lonely Planet
R Rachowiecki: Peru: a travel survival kit, Lonely Planet
R Rachowiecki: Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, Lonely Planet
K Dydynski: Colombia: a travel survival kit, Lonely Planet
M Schoen & W. Herzberg: Brazil: a travel survival kit, Lonely Planet
W Bernhardson: Chile and Easter Island: A travel survival kit, Lonely Planet
W Bernhardson: Argentina: a travel survival kit, Lonely Planet
D Swaney: Bolivia: a travel survival kit, Lonely Planet
J Noble: Mexico: a travel survival kit, Lonely Planet
T Brosnahan: Guatemala, Belize and Yucatan, A travel survival kit, Lonely Planet
A Draffen: Brazil: a travel survival kit, Lonely Planet