Past is Present

Marie Arana on how violence, exploitation, and religion have ruled Latin America’s history—and might portend its future


Marie Arana is the award-winning Peruvian-American author of Silver, Sword, and Stone: Three Crucibles in the Latin American Story, a book about a whole continent that manages not to be a thousand pages long—even though it covers about a thousand years of history. She makes the compelling case that there are really three driving forces behind the entire region: exploitation and extraction; violence; and religion. Of course, all of these forces are deeply interrelated—and that’s the point. To drive home how tangled the past is with the present, Arana weaves the stories of three contemporary Latin Americans together with a millennium of history to ultimately show why you can’t really explain the rest of the world without first understanding the story of Latin America.

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Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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