The Peruvian-born author of American Chica tells the stories of three people in contemporary Latin America whose lives are emblematic of the three powerful historical forces that still shape the region: mineral exploitation (silver), violence (sword), and the Church (stone).
The sad tale of the conquest and what followed over the next centuries in Latin America has been related many times before, but Arana, a novelist, has turned it into literature. Though meticulously researched, the book’s greatest strengths are the power of its epic narrative, the beauty of its prose and its rich portrayals of character ... Arana’s strength is the power and passion of her storytelling, and her explanation of what has shaped Latin America over the past half-millennium has the ring of truth ... It is a bold assertion, but by the end of this marvelous book, she has definitively and eloquently made the case.
Arana’s...fluency in Latin American history blossoms in this unique and arresting inquiry into three 'crucibles' which have shaped Latin American life for centuries ... In this masterwork of exploration, connection, and analysis, Arana offers a fresh, gripping, and redefining perspective on a vital and magnificent region betrayed by toxic greed and vicious tyranny.
Marie Arana's new book Silver, Sword and Stone: Three Crucibles in the Latin American Story, gets at the identity conundrum of Latin America with storytelling that is both clear-eyed and evocative ... Arana's timely and excellent volume is not a history. It's not one of those cultural safaris one often sees substituted for thoughtful writing about global regions. Her book is a combination of stories, journalism, history and most important, insight ... If the sweep and soar of her narrative recalls Victor Hugo, the essence of her voice delivers that feeling which results from knowing what happens when people choose not to understand — that sense of yearning one often discovers in the music and poetry of Latin America's great artists ... Arana gives us an epic story of stories — of regions conjoined by desire for treasure, power and control, and of the emotional mortar which binds people together through endurance ... A reading of Silver, Sword and Stone is a punch in the face — the real impact of greed, violence and religion comes through viscerally. But Arana's book also reveals the paradox which both supports and defies centuries of oppression. It's the Latin American's capacity to endure. More than a lesson on oppression, this is a story about the fatalism of resilience.