• Bolivar

  • American Liberator
  • By: Marie Arana
  • Narrated by: David Crommett
  • Length: 20 hrs and 11 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (1,257 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

It is astonishing that Simón Bolívar, the great Liberator of South America, is not better known in the United States. He freed six countries from Spanish rule, traveled more than 75,000 miles on horseback to do so, and became the greatest figure in Latin American history. His life is epic, heroic, straight out of Hollywood: he fought battle after battle in punishing terrain, forged uncertain coalitions of competing forces and races, lost his beautiful wife soon after they married and never remarried (although he did have a succession of mistresses, including one who held up the revolution and another who saved his life), and he died relatively young, uncertain whether his achievements would endure.

Drawing on a wealth of primary documents, novelist and journalist Marie Arana brilliantly captures early 19th-century South America and the explosive tensions that helped revolutionize Bolívar. In 1813 he launched a campaign for the independence of Colombia and Venezuela, commencing a dazzling career that would take him across the rugged terrain of South America, from Amazon jungles to the Andes mountains. From his battlefield victories to his ill-fated marriage and legendary love affairs, Bolívar emerges as a man of many facets: fearless general, brilliant strategist, consummate diplomat, passionate abolitionist, gifted writer, and flawed politician.

A major work of history, Bolívar colorfully portrays a dramatic life even as it explains the rivalries and complications that bedeviled Bolívar’s tragic last days. It is also a stirring declaration of what it means to be a South American.

©2013 Marie Arana (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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What listeners say about Bolivar

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  • Overall
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There will be blood.

Any additional comments?

I was completely absorbed by this audiobook! As a Venezuelan, I superficially studied Bolívar's life and the War of Independence in school, but the version I learned was very politically correct. This book shows both the strengths and weaknesses of The Liberator, and that made the experience all the more enlightening. I wish this had been available when I was a teenager! Personally, I wasn't aware of how brutal all participating sides had been during the conflict! Yikes! In that sense, this was an eye opener. Yes, there was courage and sacrifice, but also a surreal amount of violence and bloodshed. I was shocked and saddened by this perspective. The book includes a lot of detail without ever being even slightly tedious. No matter where you're from, chances are you'll be similarly fascinated with the history. There's much to learn from it and it would easily make an epic blockbuster movie.

The narrator did a great job, only he constantly mispronounces the name of the city of Coro: the accent is on the first syllable, not the second! This is irritating as the city plays a recurrent role in the life of Bolívar and its name is repeated hundreds of times. Crommett's awful pronunciation of French words (mainly names and cities) is also a bit annoying, but there's a very limited number of these. What's most important is that he reads at a very nice pace (not too slowly or too quickly) and both his English and Spanish are very clear.

66 people found this helpful

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Absolutely fantastic book!

Marie Arana wrote a great biography of Bolivar, she covered not only the positive but the negative aspects of the man. Arana's prose is often beautiful, it is apparently from the writing she is a novelist turned biographer. The story almost reads as a historical novel, she keeps your attention to every word. Arana brings the story to life, the reader feels as if one is there and part of the action. Bolivar was a 19th Century leader, born in Venezuela.
He was born into a wealthy family and received education both in his home country but also in Spain and France. What he accomplished is mind boggling! The military action lasted twice as long as the U.S. revolution and territory cover was 7 times larger. He led both a revolution and a civil war. Bolivar evicted Spain from a million square miles of territory in an eleven year campaign. Battles fought against a trained Spanish army of superior numbers. His army had to go on superhuman marches though rain swollen jungles and over snow-capped Andes Mountains to fight the battles often with only a few days rest. He freed the area now called Venezuela, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. The book explains why Bolivar thought the U.S. type of democracy would not work in South America with it mixed races of creole, indigenous Indians, black slaves, Spanish and other Europeans. Arana explains Bolivar belief, the three hundred years of tyranny by Spain and how, Spain deliberately kept the people un-educated and pitted against each other, were not ready to govern themselves. He thought that at a later date, a British type of government was better, but he made the mistake of setting up the area for rule by dictators . Arana explains how he ended up dying poor and hated by the people but later brought back to hero status. David Crommett did a good job narrating the story and all the Spanish names. If you are interested in history and would like to learn more about our neighbors to the south you will enjoy this book.

22 people found this helpful

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Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!!!

As good as a history read can be. Due to a life lived as well as person could. I would give 10 stars if I could, for it is not every day that an audio book brings tears to my eyes.
Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes!! Viva Bolivar!!!!!

17 people found this helpful

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This is a must listen-to.

Everything about this story is glorious. Bolivar is a man who should be honored and taught alongside Washington or Alexander the Great in schools. His story is one deserving of legend, and by the end, had me nearly in tears. The narrator does a fantastic job, and the author paints potraits with her words as one would with the finest oils to showcase this figure of history. If you listen to no other book this year, listen to this one.

15 people found this helpful

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EXCELLENT BIOGRAPHY AND HISTORY!

What made the experience of listening to Bolivar the most enjoyable?

I am a student of Latin American history, and I have never read a better history of Bolivar, the man, his times and the events of the 20 year struggle for independence from Spain and trying to bring democratic order out of the chaos that resulted from the defeat of Spanish forces.

What other book might you compare Bolivar to and why?

Samuel E Morison's "Admiral of the Ocean Seas" about the life of Columbus is the very best biography I have ever read, and it won a Pulitzer. This history and biography of Bolivar was almost on par with that great biography. The author lets us understand the times, the life, the events, and the results of Bolivar's astonishing efforts. Great read, great book.

Have you listened to any of David Crommett’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This was a great listen. Easy to listen to and to understand. it is a great story well told.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

The amazing life of Bolivar.

Any additional comments?

Recommend this book to anyone wanting to understand modern day Latin America. No one can understand the current conditions of Latin America without understanding its history, Bolivar was a big piece of the history of the land and its people.

13 people found this helpful

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Interesting Guy

What made the experience of listening to Bolivar the most enjoyable?

The story was incredibly coherent. Very easy to follow, and it really gave you a three dimensional view of the man. You got to grow up with Bolivar in a way.

What other book might you compare Bolivar to and why?

I haven't read many other historical biographies so this answer will be ill informed. A book like Barbara Tuchman's "A Distant Mirror" also focused on the life of one man, she used it as a means to explore the time period in which he lived. This book is much more focused on the man rather than the history.

Which character – as performed by David Crommett – was your favorite?

I suppose Bolivar himself.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

A Latin Washington

Any additional comments?

My main criticism of this book is the angle taken by the author in relation to his subject. Arana does convey that Bolivar is a complicated man who does not always act nobly, but a more hard hitting analysis would have been appreciated. I would have liked to hear more about why Bolivar did the things he did rather than what he was doing. Still, very good book.

10 people found this helpful

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Biased toward Bolivar

Writer strikes me as a Bolivar apologist, not a good thing for a history author.

9 people found this helpful

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Superbly written and narrated

Beautifully written biography of Simon Bolivar was easy to listen to as an audiobook. The story follows in chronological order events in hes life and very descriptive of major battles fought.

6 people found this helpful

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Outstanding

All the praise for this book given in the reviews above is well-placed. This is an outstanding work of history, told by Arana with drama, passion, and a keen moral sense. Crommett's narration is superb--his Spanish is near flawless, and he blends the Latin American pronunciations into the stream of his English deftly.

6 people found this helpful

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White noise ambience

I honestly regret this purchase. The story needs to be tightened up quite a bit. I listen to many audio books and I read and listen to many history books. This honestly became hard to follow. It was basically a flat line. I found the tidbits about Napoleon to be the only truly interesting things I heard. The rest seems like, "then he went here. Then he went there. Then he slept here. Then he met this person. Then he threw a party. Then he went here. Someone who wanted to meet him thought he was there. But he wasn't there. He had just left here. He was on the way there. The person who wanted to meet him had just left there and and was on the way to here". 👎🏾

5 people found this helpful

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  • r
  • 01-14-16

The truth RDH

Very powerful book about this man who freed South America from Spain and leaving a very big lump within my throat and leaving me tearful. Also a very good history lesson about South America up to this visit present day.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Knowledge thru Books.
  • 07-19-19

Epic

What a insightful , deep , evocative book. Bolivar was a great man with many flaws.. Maria Arana captures Bolivar life in meaningful and succinct way

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-03-21

Beautifully narrated

It is refreshing on Audible to have a native speaker reading a book in which so much Spanish is used, in the form of names, places and words.
But the book is far too detailed, includes hundreds of names of people that one cannot keep track of, and it becomes very tedious. It is, in my opinion, a book for specialists. I had to give up a third of the way through.

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  • Fortress of Soulitude
  • 09-26-19

Easy to Follow

Bolivar Is easy to follow. The Netflix series is a little more romantic or idealistic. Not this book. References to other world event help to give clear picture of how things were then in history and how everything was tied together. I found that fascinating.

There are many historical lessons in here and excellent quotes on education and ignorance. How lack of education is used to controlled exploit a group of people. The cruelty disguised as religion/righteousness. Slavery/Abolition. Racism. Corruption. Greed. Power hunger. Its all here.

Narrator does excellent job.

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  • Shane
  • 05-29-16

Good but Superficial

This book gave a pretty good overview of not only Simon Bolivar's life but the period he lived in. It was well written and there wasn't any overt ideological bias that makes some biographies unreadable. The only thing the book lacked was a really critical analysis of the decisions that he made.