The first serious biography of Francisco Solano López in English for decades, this richly researched book tells the dramatic story of Paraguay's most notorious ruler. Despite the heroic stature he gained after his death, López was a monumentally flawed leader who made the disastrous decisions in 1864 and 1865 to invade Paraguay's powerful neighbors, Brazil and Argentina, initiating the most devastating interstate conflict in South American history. Drawing on a trove of primary sources, James Schofield Saeger offers a critical analysis of López's personality and often-irrational persecution of enemies, adherents, and siblings. He traces López's preparation for high public office, work habits, control of his nation and army, propaganda, and execution. Concluding with an examination of López's posthumous rehabilitation, Saeger shows how the tyrant who ruined his nation became its most highly honored hero, crowning a campaign by revisionist publicists from 1870–1936, and a useful symbol for later authoritarians. Still largely unchallenged in Paraguay today, this glorification of a martial president is definitively put to rest in Saeger's meticulous study.
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; July 2007
- ISBN 9780742580565
- Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure EPUB format
- Title: Francisco Solano López and the Ruination of Paraguay
- Author: James Schofield Saeger
Imprint: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
In The Press
Was Francisco Solano López a madman or a national hero? James Saeger answers this question forthrightly, undermining the conventional view and reviving a rational yet novel judgment of the man who dragged his Paraguayan countrymen through a misbegotten war against their far larger and more powerfully endowed neighbors with sad consequences for a population that did not deserve such punishment. Saeger has crafted a thoughtful, solidly documented biography of a deranged figure whose bizarre life is a classic example of the surreal Latin American dictator of literary notoriety. He deploys the sources carefully and fairly and provides his audience, undergraduates and general readers alike, with a compelling story of power gone awry in the pivotal middle decades of nineteenth-century Latin America. An uncompromising new assessment of a long-standing, self-deluding national mythology, this book surpasses biography. It will provoke many a classroom debate on any number of themes. Among them will be the timeless question of the dangers of a surrender of public power to irresponsible central authority and the dire national consequences of political self-delusion.
About The Author
James Schofield Saeger is professor of history at Lehigh University.