Beatriz Allende: A Revolutionary Life in Cold War Latin America

Univ. of North Carolina. Apr. 2020. 384p. ISBN 9781469654294. $34.95. BIOG
Beatriz Allende (1943–77) was a Chilean socialist revolutionary, medical doctor, and daughter of Salvador Allende, Chile’s democratically elected president who was toppled in a military coup backed by the CIA in 1973. After the coup, which culminated in her father’s suicide, Beatriz escaped to Communist Cuba, where she helped lead the Chilean Left in exile until she, too, ended her own life. Harmer (history, London Sch. of Economics; Allende’s Chile and the Inter-American Cold War) considers the tensions embodied by this lone “female militant amid Latin America’s hypermasculine guerrilla decade,” when revolutionaries both fostered women’s liberation and relegated them to support roles. More radical than her father, Beatriz smuggled guns and rebels into neighboring Bolivia, married a Cuban operative, and visited Moscow. When her father became president in 1970, Beatriz became his secretary and confidant. During Chile’s military dictatorship, she rallied a global solidarity movement, advocating for human rights and a return to democracy rather than socialist revolution.
VERDICT While previous studies lionized or sentimentalized Beatriz, Harmer roots the subject in the context of the time period and brings to bear her own expertise in Cold War Latin America. A definitive biography of a female revolutionary.

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