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Evita, First Lady: A Biography of Evita Peron

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Eva Peron was a star and a legend during her lifetime, one of the most alluring women of the twentieth century. Through the hit Broadway musical Evita by Andrew Lloyd Webber, her story became famous, and with the release of the film starring Madonna as Eva Peron, her life became a media obsession once again. Whore and feminist, tyrant and saint, Evita was the beautiful and Eva Peron was a star and a legend during her lifetime, one of the most alluring women of the twentieth century. Through the hit Broadway musical Evita by Andrew Lloyd Webber, her story became famous, and with the release of the film starring Madonna as Eva Peron, her life became a media obsession once again. Whore and feminist, tyrant and saint, Evita was the beautiful and legendary woman who rose up from poverty to become the hypnotically powerful first lady of Argentina. To millions of poor people she was a savior; to her enemies she was a monstrous dictator. In this riveting biography, John Barnes explores the astonishing paradox of this champion of the poor who attacked the rich and, in the process, made herself the wealthiest woman in the world.


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Eva Peron was a star and a legend during her lifetime, one of the most alluring women of the twentieth century. Through the hit Broadway musical Evita by Andrew Lloyd Webber, her story became famous, and with the release of the film starring Madonna as Eva Peron, her life became a media obsession once again. Whore and feminist, tyrant and saint, Evita was the beautiful and Eva Peron was a star and a legend during her lifetime, one of the most alluring women of the twentieth century. Through the hit Broadway musical Evita by Andrew Lloyd Webber, her story became famous, and with the release of the film starring Madonna as Eva Peron, her life became a media obsession once again. Whore and feminist, tyrant and saint, Evita was the beautiful and legendary woman who rose up from poverty to become the hypnotically powerful first lady of Argentina. To millions of poor people she was a savior; to her enemies she was a monstrous dictator. In this riveting biography, John Barnes explores the astonishing paradox of this champion of the poor who attacked the rich and, in the process, made herself the wealthiest woman in the world.

30 review for Evita, First Lady: A Biography of Evita Peron

  1. 4 out of 5

    Morgana

    La costruzione di un mito. Probabilmente è questo che ha maggiormente attirato la mia attenzione. Ho cercato di pormi di fronte a questa lettura con un atteggiamento quanto più oggettivo possibile: ho amato smodatamente, anni fa, l'Evita cinematografica di Madonna e non volevo esserne troppo influenzata. In effetti l'Evita di Barnes, sebbene sempre circondata da quell'aura di magia che probabilmente fa intrinsecamente parte del personaggio, mi è sembrata più reale. Tante luci, ma anche ombre. Le o La costruzione di un mito. Probabilmente è questo che ha maggiormente attirato la mia attenzione. Ho cercato di pormi di fronte a questa lettura con un atteggiamento quanto più oggettivo possibile: ho amato smodatamente, anni fa, l'Evita cinematografica di Madonna e non volevo esserne troppo influenzata. In effetti l'Evita di Barnes, sebbene sempre circondata da quell'aura di magia che probabilmente fa intrinsecamente parte del personaggio, mi è sembrata più reale. Tante luci, ma anche ombre. Le ombre più grandi, quelle di una dittatura (perché alla fine tale resta). E le ombre più piccole, di una donna che, se da un lato è assolutamente ammirevole per l'audacia, la pertinacia e il coraggio, dall'altro resta comunque un'arrampicatrice sociale. Una che "ha saputo scegliersi bene gli uomini". E usarli. Forse in qualche punto l'autore esagera, forse cerca talvolta di provocare lo stupore del lettore, o forse Evita era davvero così. Non lo sapremo mai. Il fascino di questa lettura, per me, è stato proprio questo. Che Evita, a volerla giudicare razionalmente, era e resterà un enigma. Un portentoso enigma.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nadia

    Personaggio affascinante, una grande donna... Dalle umili origini a leader spirituale dell'Argentina, l'autore ci racconta la sua vita, fatta di luci e ombre, una donna che si è saputa gestire e che non si è fermata davanti a niente tranne, purtroppo, alla morte, a soli 33 anni. Non amo molto le biografie, ma quando trovo il personaggio che mi intriga e lo stile del biografo altrettanto è capolavoro. Personaggio affascinante, una grande donna... Dalle umili origini a leader spirituale dell'Argentina, l'autore ci racconta la sua vita, fatta di luci e ombre, una donna che si è saputa gestire e che non si è fermata davanti a niente tranne, purtroppo, alla morte, a soli 33 anni. Non amo molto le biografie, ma quando trovo il personaggio che mi intriga e lo stile del biografo altrettanto è capolavoro.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jewels

    I checked this book out of the local library because I am writing a research paper on Eva Peron. I had only known of her via the play, popularized by Madonna. I found this volume to be fascinating, and more than I had initially hoped for in source material. Evita was a strong woman of many passions, a balance between a saint and a dictator. Those she loved, she protected and helped as best she could. The poor especially benefited from her care. Those she hated, she arranged for humiliation and a I checked this book out of the local library because I am writing a research paper on Eva Peron. I had only known of her via the play, popularized by Madonna. I found this volume to be fascinating, and more than I had initially hoped for in source material. Evita was a strong woman of many passions, a balance between a saint and a dictator. Those she loved, she protected and helped as best she could. The poor especially benefited from her care. Those she hated, she arranged for humiliation and annihilation or as close as she could get to it. It was interesting to see the smiling face of the lovely Evita juxtapositioned against the raging, screaming, cold shrew that her enemies saw. She is quite the fascinating character, and this was a worthwhile read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    A biography that shares the chronology of Eva Peron's life starting from her childhood living in a poor neighborhood with no father figure and ending with her being revered as Saint Evita and an icon of the Argentine people and government. A great read to give insight to her influence and power. I especially liked her work as a feminist to promote women's rights. Not so much about Argentina, but still a good read. A biography that shares the chronology of Eva Peron's life starting from her childhood living in a poor neighborhood with no father figure and ending with her being revered as Saint Evita and an icon of the Argentine people and government. A great read to give insight to her influence and power. I especially liked her work as a feminist to promote women's rights. Not so much about Argentina, but still a good read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sonali

    Quite interesting and nice style of writing which is far away from being dull and plain factual. A bit repetitive, though, and from time to time I had the impression as if a story was a bit exaggerated just for the sake of telling a witty anecdote.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Candy

    Pure chance is the reason I picked up this book. I was doing a crossword puzzle, and the clue was “_ _ _ Perón.” Then a few days later, another crossword puzzle with the clue “Don’t _ _ _ for Me Argentina.” I thought nothing of the coincidence, except now that song became an earworm. A constant loop in my head of the two lines I know. With the earworm singing in my head, I opened my Book Bub email and, lo and behold, Evita was one of the daily discounted books. The story of Evita Peron is incredi Pure chance is the reason I picked up this book. I was doing a crossword puzzle, and the clue was “_ _ _ Perón.” Then a few days later, another crossword puzzle with the clue “Don’t _ _ _ for Me Argentina.” I thought nothing of the coincidence, except now that song became an earworm. A constant loop in my head of the two lines I know. With the earworm singing in my head, I opened my Book Bub email and, lo and behold, Evita was one of the daily discounted books. The story of Evita Peron is incredible, and she was a larger than life figure while alive as well as in death. María Eva Duarte de Perón was born on May 7, 1919, to Juana Ibarguren and Juan Duarte, a wealthy rancher who already had a wife and children before he started a family with Ibarguren. Juana’s relationship with Duarte ended, and he returned to his wife and children, leaving Juana and her children penniless. Juana moved her family to Las Pampas, trying to eke out a living in the impoverished rural town. Duarte died suddenly, leaving Juana with nothing but a document declaring the children were his, hence Evita’s use of his surname. Evita’s dream was to be an actress, and she moved to Buenos Aires. She worked in theater and as a model, and did manage to snag a few film roles. And while the consensus was that she was a terrible actress, her ability to pick boyfriends with wealth, influence and power ensured her success as a movie star. And then she met Juan Perón. The Peróns were able to connect with Argentina’s working-class descamisados, the shirtless ones. The Peróns identified with the descamisados and their impassioned campaign speeches portrayed the worker as a human, no longer a machine. When Perón took office, Evita became his second in command, an outrage to masculine pride in Perón’s cabinet. However, the descamisados saw their standard of living increase dramatically, receiving pay increases often up to 50%, four weeks of holidays, sick leave and the 13th month check bonus which was given to workers right before Christmas. Juan and Evita had delivered on their promises and the descamisados were smitten with the couple. Evita was in a position of power and anyone who had crossed her in the past was swiftly dealt with, and harshly. But for her descamisados, she built schools, hospitals, homes for unwed mothers, homes for the elderly, parks, recreation centers, seaside resorts for workers, and held lotteries giving away houses. She died at 33 of cervical cancer. Argentina is one of those countries that has a strange obsession with the corpses of their leaders. Evita’s descamisados lined up in the freezing rain, waiting up to 15 hours just to get a 20-second look at their beloved Evita. Her embalmed body was to be placed into a mausoleum taller than the Statue of Liberty, ready to be viewed behind a glass pane. However, that never happened and her perfectly embalmed body was kept in a Perón deputy’s apartment. One morning he was awakened by noises and thought something nefarious was happening with the body. Unfortunately, it was his pregnant wife, and he shot and killed her. Evita’s body was then moved to military headquarters for a time, before being buried in Milan, Italy under an assumed name. It was returned to Argentina 17 years later for proper burial. These are just some of the highlights to Evita’s story. No matter how beautiful her clothes or expensive her jewelry, Evita was a savior to the descamisados and they would love her for eternity. Indeed, the Cult of Evita wanted to know where her body was, and the president after Peron was overthrown, kidnapped and murdered in an attempt to learn Evita’s whereabouts. There is so much more to Evita’s, and I really do recommend this as a fascinating read. This is the only book I’ve read on the subject and I didn’t see the musical, so I can’t compare, but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. https://candysplanet.wordpress.com/

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anna Zornoza

    Not the best book I've read about Eva Peron, and I've read quite a few. Nothing particularly new or exciting and I'm pretty sure some of the things included have since been shown to be inaccurate. It wasn't awful though and I enjoyed some of the insight into Argentine history. The writing style is also very nice and not as dry as some of the other biographies I have read. I'm glad I read it but I can't say it was particularly mind-blowing. Not the best book I've read about Eva Peron, and I've read quite a few. Nothing particularly new or exciting and I'm pretty sure some of the things included have since been shown to be inaccurate. It wasn't awful though and I enjoyed some of the insight into Argentine history. The writing style is also very nice and not as dry as some of the other biographies I have read. I'm glad I read it but I can't say it was particularly mind-blowing.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Zieger

    This was really not what I was hoping it would be. I wanted to know more about Evita and I think it was just too many historical facts about Argentina and the president and not enough about Evita herself. Parts were very dry and boring. I think I'll have to pick up something different for what I wanted to learn. This was really not what I was hoping it would be. I wanted to know more about Evita and I think it was just too many historical facts about Argentina and the president and not enough about Evita herself. Parts were very dry and boring. I think I'll have to pick up something different for what I wanted to learn.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nora Tnm

    Worst book of all times. Could only make it until page 100. Sexist from front to back (probably).

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ken Franck

    Well written

  11. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Seems more political and i got bored in parts. I skimmed thru parts.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Robby

    As a child I became acquainted with the story of Eva Perón through the (historically incorrect) musical “Evita” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice and immediately became fascinated with this woman. This biography is an interesting and objective account on the woman who was born illegitimate, was raised in slums with literally no legal rights at all, yet ultimately became the most powerful woman in Latin America, if not the whole world. As mentioned before, not all facts are accurate according to As a child I became acquainted with the story of Eva Perón through the (historically incorrect) musical “Evita” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice and immediately became fascinated with this woman. This biography is an interesting and objective account on the woman who was born illegitimate, was raised in slums with literally no legal rights at all, yet ultimately became the most powerful woman in Latin America, if not the whole world. As mentioned before, not all facts are accurate according to more contemporary research, however I would recommend this biography to anyone wanting to know more about Eva Perón, her life, her country and her times.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Petersen

    Long a fan of the musical Evita and having recently seen it multiple times as a show where my son was music director, I finally sought out some nonfiction information on this intriguing woman. This particular biography of 1978 (just after Juan Peron's death) takes what I consider an objective view. It's thorough but in a "popular" style and doesn't stint on unpleasant aspects of the regime that Eva and her dictator husband promulgated. Long a fan of the musical Evita and having recently seen it multiple times as a show where my son was music director, I finally sought out some nonfiction information on this intriguing woman. This particular biography of 1978 (just after Juan Peron's death) takes what I consider an objective view. It's thorough but in a "popular" style and doesn't stint on unpleasant aspects of the regime that Eva and her dictator husband promulgated.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kay Mercuro

    After seeing the stage play, Evita, by Andrew Lloyd Webber, I wanted to read more about this interesting woman. Mr. Barnes book is very interesting and easy to read. A good start to learning about the Peron's and their control over Argentina in the 1950's before Eva Peron died at the age of 33. After seeing the stage play, Evita, by Andrew Lloyd Webber, I wanted to read more about this interesting woman. Mr. Barnes book is very interesting and easy to read. A good start to learning about the Peron's and their control over Argentina in the 1950's before Eva Peron died at the age of 33.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Willo Font

    This story has always been fascinating to me. As a child I remember seeing movies with her and my mother pointing out. That's Eva Perón always a terrible actress. She kicked out Libertad Lamarquez who later in life was nicknamed "La Novia de America" she was like the Latin version of Julie Andrews. This story has always been fascinating to me. As a child I remember seeing movies with her and my mother pointing out. That's Eva Perón always a terrible actress. She kicked out Libertad Lamarquez who later in life was nicknamed "La Novia de America" she was like the Latin version of Julie Andrews.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anne Stratton

    Fantastic Enjoyed every word. I have studied the life of this unbelievable woman for years. She remains a heroine as well as an enigma yet today. I respectfully congratulate the author of this book to keeping Evita in our senses. Thank you.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sammi

    I love Evita so I was not impressed by this book. Honestly, it was more about the political Mr. Peron than Eva. This account of her life lacked the magic and obsession that her tale should and usually does inspire .

  18. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    A very interesting book. I was surprised to see how much of the film and play was accurate.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    I found this absorbing.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    I had only ever seen the movie made of her life and the book is very intresting she isn't who I thought she was. I had only ever seen the movie made of her life and the book is very intresting she isn't who I thought she was.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dee

    $3 at local bookstore

  22. 5 out of 5

    CAPANNA DURMONT

    Ho registrato un libro su BookCrossing.com! http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/12156520 Ho registrato un libro su BookCrossing.com! http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/12156520

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lcitera

    An adequate introduction to a bygone era of Argentina's politics and military history. An adequate introduction to a bygone era of Argentina's politics and military history.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Erin Thompson

    This book was okay. Not all of the facts were correct though.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Very historical version of Eva Peron's life, rather than a story style book. Quite interesting to learn about Evita although the style of this book made it a bit hard to get through. Very historical version of Eva Peron's life, rather than a story style book. Quite interesting to learn about Evita although the style of this book made it a bit hard to get through.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cecilia

    Good to know the history from a neutral perspective.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joy Johnson

    To much about the politics and not enough about the person.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeanie

    Good book, but sad. I am going to watch the movie next.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Good read. Surprising how accurate the musical and the movie were. I never knew enough about her before reading this book to judge the historical details in the performance genres.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Russell Swenson

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