Why Allende Fell
AMERICANS, it is said, will do anything for Latin America but read about it. And until recently, Chile was no exception to this rule. Certainly publishers thought so: between 1938 and 1970 fewer than a dozen books in English were published on that country for the general reader, and except for a few anxious Anaconda corporation wives, it is difficult to imagine anyone reading them. Today the problem is just the reverse-namely, how to see the country at all, now that our view is obstructed by a fast-growing thicket of books and hortatory pamphlets.
This is all the more remarkable since Chile is a small and really not very interesting place. It is not “colorful” in the way that North Americans or sun-starved Northern Europeans imagine South America to be. Chileans lack the literature, music, and style of the Brazilians, the abundant cuisine and ideological exotica of the Argentines, the good weather and historic architecture of the Mexicans, and they lack above all that highly developed sense of the ridiculous which is one of the most endearing qualities of Latin Americans generally.
About the Author
Mark Falcoff is resident scholar emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.