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Latin America has produced no more remarkable or enduring political figure than Juan Peron. Born to modest circumstances in 1895 and trained in the military, he rose to power during a period of political uncertainty in Argentina. A shrewd opportunist who understood the needs and aspirations of the country's workers, Peron rode their votes to the presidency and then increas Latin America has produced no more remarkable or enduring political figure than Juan Peron. Born to modest circumstances in 1895 and trained in the military, he rose to power during a period of political uncertainty in Argentina. A shrewd opportunist who understood the needs and aspirations of the country's workers, Peron rode their votes to the presidency and then increased their share of the nation's wealth. But he also destroyed the independence of their unions and suppressed dissent. Ousted in a coup in 1955, he wandered about Latin America and finally settled in Spain, where he masterminded an astonishing political comeback that climaxed in his reelection as president in 1973. Joseph Page's engrossing biography is based upon interviews on 3 continents, never-before inspected Argentine and U.S. government documents and exhaustive research, Page's book spans Peron's formative years; his arrest and dramatic rescue by the 'descamisados' (workers) in 1945; his relationship with the now-mythic Evita; the violence and mysterious murders that punctuated his career; his tragic legacy, personified by his third wife, Isabel, who assumed the presidency after his death under the influence of a Rasputin-like astrologer; and the continuing appeal of Peronism in Argentina. Page's study of Argentine-American relations is particularly penetrating, esp. in its description of the struggle between Peron and U.S. ambassador Spruille Braden.


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Latin America has produced no more remarkable or enduring political figure than Juan Peron. Born to modest circumstances in 1895 and trained in the military, he rose to power during a period of political uncertainty in Argentina. A shrewd opportunist who understood the needs and aspirations of the country's workers, Peron rode their votes to the presidency and then increas Latin America has produced no more remarkable or enduring political figure than Juan Peron. Born to modest circumstances in 1895 and trained in the military, he rose to power during a period of political uncertainty in Argentina. A shrewd opportunist who understood the needs and aspirations of the country's workers, Peron rode their votes to the presidency and then increased their share of the nation's wealth. But he also destroyed the independence of their unions and suppressed dissent. Ousted in a coup in 1955, he wandered about Latin America and finally settled in Spain, where he masterminded an astonishing political comeback that climaxed in his reelection as president in 1973. Joseph Page's engrossing biography is based upon interviews on 3 continents, never-before inspected Argentine and U.S. government documents and exhaustive research, Page's book spans Peron's formative years; his arrest and dramatic rescue by the 'descamisados' (workers) in 1945; his relationship with the now-mythic Evita; the violence and mysterious murders that punctuated his career; his tragic legacy, personified by his third wife, Isabel, who assumed the presidency after his death under the influence of a Rasputin-like astrologer; and the continuing appeal of Peronism in Argentina. Page's study of Argentine-American relations is particularly penetrating, esp. in its description of the struggle between Peron and U.S. ambassador Spruille Braden.

30 review for Peron: A Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    This is a very well-written biography about an extremely controversial and complex dictator. I had forgotten how the story of Evita was entwined with Perón's story. Peron was a special kind of dictator - similar to Franco in some ways (previous military background, balancing opposing forces in a divide and conquer manner to hang on to power), but different in other ways. I guess one of the most surprising and complex differences are how he was neither a leftist nor a rightist. In fact, he coined This is a very well-written biography about an extremely controversial and complex dictator. I had forgotten how the story of Evita was entwined with Perón's story. Peron was a special kind of dictator - similar to Franco in some ways (previous military background, balancing opposing forces in a divide and conquer manner to hang on to power), but different in other ways. I guess one of the most surprising and complex differences are how he was neither a leftist nor a rightist. In fact, he coined the term "Third Way" as being somewhere between the two. At first this is surprising because of his reputation of sympathy and support for fascists and in particular Nazis. In fact, it seems that it was more opportunistic than idealogical. Yes, he did turn a blind eye to many Nazis leaving Germany once the Third Reich's fate was sealed, but so did a lot of countries (note that as military governor of Bavaria, Patton turned a blind eye to former Nazi party cadres returning to their jobs after the war). Peron espoused a typical Catholic conservative worldview and later in life spouted idiotic theories about Zionist conspiracies and so forth, but he also was loved by labor. This is because, in his quest for power and given his peasant origins, he quickly realized that making overtures to the working class and keeping them happy would essentially guarantee his power. While this was mostly true, it was also a liability that was to cost Argentina heavily in the long run. In fact, he was kicked out of Argentina for 17 years but they were turbulent years of increasing violence which peaked at the moment of his return. Well, return may be a strong word since he returned old and sick and barely lasted a year once assuming power before he passed away from untreated medical issues. The violence, once again surprisingly, pitted the peronists of the extreme right (which we can understand in a dictatorship) against peronists of the extreme left (surprising because they claimed legitimacy from Peron's history with the labor movement but were cold-hearted killers like those on the extreme right). It was a complete mess and cost thousands of lives and years to recuperate for the country. As for Evita, she was one in a long line of women (before and after) far younger than Peron that he fell in love with. I learned that he even started a sort of sports academy for teen girls that, well, you can fill in the blanks. Evita herself was a dynamic and rather violent public speaker. Pretty much extreme right but with the same penchant as Peron for aligning labor with her ideas, she did accomplish some social reform and was beloved of the people of Argentina. Unfortunately, she died young (shortly before Peron fled Argentina) and her body then underwent a strange and macabre voyage before returning to Argentina with Peron in 1973. I never saw the film with Madonna about Evita, but reading just a few reviews, it seems that the film had absolutely no connection to reality. For example, Che Guevara and Evita never met and he was not stalking her. In any case, having never really been to Argentina, I can only go by what Page wrote in this book back in 1982, she is apparently still worshipped in Argentina as a symbol of the decamisados - the "shirtless ones" or the workers that lent their support to the Peronist movement. I suppose I need to find a book (similar to Out of the Shadows) about post-Peron Argentina to understand how the state evolved after his passing and how they fell in another hold financially two decades later. In any case, Page's biography is highly readable and informative about this particular dictator who was a master of Machiavellian politics and remains a very complex figure to try to understand.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Angel González Smith

    La calidad de esta biografía es genial. El libro lo compré en El Ateneo Grand Splendid de Buenos Aires, le pregunté a uno de los vendedores: "¿Cuál es el mejor libro para entender la vida de Perón?" y me recomendó este libro escrito por Page. Realmente, disfruté leyendo este libro. La calidad de esta biografía es genial. El libro lo compré en El Ateneo Grand Splendid de Buenos Aires, le pregunté a uno de los vendedores: "¿Cuál es el mejor libro para entender la vida de Perón?" y me recomendó este libro escrito por Page. Realmente, disfruté leyendo este libro.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    This is an excellent book that covers the life and governments of Juan Peron. While at times harshly critical of its subject, it is an excellent antidote to the various myths circulating about this talented man. The author acknowledges that Peron had strong sympathies for Mussolini and participated in the 1943 coup d'état against Ramon Castillo. However Page demonstrates that Peron fundamentally believed in democracy. When Peron assumed power it was through the democratic process as he successful This is an excellent book that covers the life and governments of Juan Peron. While at times harshly critical of its subject, it is an excellent antidote to the various myths circulating about this talented man. The author acknowledges that Peron had strong sympathies for Mussolini and participated in the 1943 coup d'état against Ramon Castillo. However Page demonstrates that Peron fundamentally believed in democracy. When Peron assumed power it was through the democratic process as he successfully obtained democratic mandates on three occasions. Peron profoundly believed in the need for the workers to obtain a rightful share of the nation's wealth. His pro-union stance led to being accused simultaneously of being both a communist and a fascist. Peron was simply of too independent a mind for some but not all of the American ambassadors to Argentina. Peron as a career military officer accepted his overthrow my a military coup d'état with good grace and then spent 18 years in exile preparing his return to power again achieved through democratic means. Page vigorously defends Eva Peron as being a positive influence on Peron. Her concern for the poor was quite genuine and her legendary extravagance was just that a legend. With her Peron's judgement was at its very best. After her death, he was more prone to mistakes. Page obviously feels that Eva was of superior moral fibre to Peron. Within a year of her death he was involved romantically with a minor. Page criticizes Peron most harshly for the way he managed his succession. He had been out of Argentina for 18 years before winning his third presidential mandate. Despite his advanced age, he made no plans for his succession neither building a strong Peronist party nor designating a successor. Instead he died within 2 years of resuming office thus creating the farcical situation whereby he was succeeded by Isabel his young, pretty but totally unqualified wife. Page felt that Peron's conduct in his last two years hurt Argentina badly. He had in effect stranded the Centre-Left without a leader or a party structure and opened the way for the military coup d'état against his widow Isabel which inaugurated the disastrous reign of the National Reorganization Process (1976 to 1983) which was in effect a military junta that instituted widespread persecutions before bringing itself down with the Falklands War. Joseph Page has written an excellent book. I say this with the single caveat that not having read any other biography of Peron, I am not in a position to determine how it rates compared to the others that are available

  4. 4 out of 5

    Carl

    A good biography of Juan Perón, onetime President of Argentina. Perón was a man’s man – an athletic ski instructor and boxer, an expert political tactician, and one of the world’s most charming people. Tens of thousands adored him, and tens of thousands loathed him. Apparently he was a political mirror: everyone who talked with him thought that Perón agreed with them, even if they held views that were 180 degrees apart. Perón supported the working class, but the author doesn’t seem to know if Peró A good biography of Juan Perón, onetime President of Argentina. Perón was a man’s man – an athletic ski instructor and boxer, an expert political tactician, and one of the world’s most charming people. Tens of thousands adored him, and tens of thousands loathed him. Apparently he was a political mirror: everyone who talked with him thought that Perón agreed with them, even if they held views that were 180 degrees apart. Perón supported the working class, but the author doesn’t seem to know if Perón really had sympathy for the worker, or just wanted their political support – maybe Perón just wanted power. Perón only wanted mediocre men in his administration – he regarded able men as competitors. This practice had bad results. The biography of course includes Evita. She comes across better than in the musical. The only problem I had with the book was that all the details of the political turmoil in Argentina during Perón’s era were overwhelming. Coups and counter-coups, revolutions, one general took over, and then the army deposed him, etc, etc. Demasiado.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Joseph Page's biography of Juan Peron is masterful in the breadth and scope that it covers. It not only does an excellent job of describing Peron's life and his impact on Argentina but you can also get a sense of the surrounding times and the development of the country. He spends quite a bit of time developing the backdrop for Peron's rise and his influence on the country. Due and fair consideration is given to the role of Eva Peron and for those who are interested in more I recommend the Navarr Joseph Page's biography of Juan Peron is masterful in the breadth and scope that it covers. It not only does an excellent job of describing Peron's life and his impact on Argentina but you can also get a sense of the surrounding times and the development of the country. He spends quite a bit of time developing the backdrop for Peron's rise and his influence on the country. Due and fair consideration is given to the role of Eva Peron and for those who are interested in more I recommend the Navarro biography. The book is very well written and is a fast read. If you are interested in the Peronist party and this time in Argentina this is a great book to start with.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Infame Descalzo

    Excelente libro, muy completo y muy interesante. Generalmente se suele despreciar a autores que no son argentinos cuando se habla sobre estos temas, pero, justamente, para mí muchas veces aportan visiones que nosotros desde acá damos por sentado, y no son cosas que tengamos que dar por sentado, no son cuestiones "de la naturaleza". Ciertamente no me volví peronista, hasta que casi por el contrario. No dejé que el estudio biográfico me envolviese, y éste sería un libro que volvería a leer, ya con Excelente libro, muy completo y muy interesante. Generalmente se suele despreciar a autores que no son argentinos cuando se habla sobre estos temas, pero, justamente, para mí muchas veces aportan visiones que nosotros desde acá damos por sentado, y no son cosas que tengamos que dar por sentado, no son cuestiones "de la naturaleza". Ciertamente no me volví peronista, hasta que casi por el contrario. No dejé que el estudio biográfico me envolviese, y éste sería un libro que volvería a leer, ya con otro background.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ricardo

    Excelente biografía de Juan Domingo Perón, un personaje interesantísimo y con una historia muy dramática. La influencia de Perón en Argentina ha sido enorme y por ende este libro ayuda a comprender la cultura, la política y la forma de pensar de los argentinos. También son increíbles los paralelos de Perón con Chávez en Venezuela. El autor es muy balanceado y tal como me lo señalara Daniel Barraco, una biografía de Perón tiene que ser escrita por un extrajero para así evitar prejuicios en favor Excelente biografía de Juan Domingo Perón, un personaje interesantísimo y con una historia muy dramática. La influencia de Perón en Argentina ha sido enorme y por ende este libro ayuda a comprender la cultura, la política y la forma de pensar de los argentinos. También son increíbles los paralelos de Perón con Chávez en Venezuela. El autor es muy balanceado y tal como me lo señalara Daniel Barraco, una biografía de Perón tiene que ser escrita por un extrajero para así evitar prejuicios en favor on en contra.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Adriano

    This excellent book is apparently a biography, but in actual reality a tragedy. Its main character is not Perón, but the Argentine people.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Maria de las

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joaquin

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jane

  12. 5 out of 5

    Pierre IL Vecchio

  13. 4 out of 5

    Martins

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dave

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rafael

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cort Williams

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chris Ainley

  18. 4 out of 5

    Miguel Arrondo iii

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mati. R

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bill Gatlin

  22. 5 out of 5

    Wilson Tomba

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ignacio

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lucas

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alberto Godoy Eyzaguirre

  26. 5 out of 5

    Pablo

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nelson

  28. 4 out of 5

    Agustin Macri

  29. 5 out of 5

    Walter

  30. 5 out of 5

    daniel grigera

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