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Lynch, John.  Simón Bolívar: a life.  Yale, 2006.  349p bibl index afp ISBN 0-300-11062-6, $35.00. Reviewed in 2007may CHOICE.

When this reviewer was in graduate school, history professors pronounced biographies as passé, so this new biography comes as a bit of a surprise. Lynch (emer., Univ. of London) pens a solid but standard life of the liberator of South America, with all of the strengths and weaknesses of this style of historical writing. This detailed treatment of one of the most important figures in the Americas is the first major English-language biography of Bolívar in a half century, making it an essential volume for all libraries and required reading for any research on South American independence movements. Even with an acknowledgment of the importance of race, class, and gender studies, however, this remains a very traditional historical treatment. Although one of the book's strengths is presenting Bolívar as a complex, contradictory figure, it embraces a "Great White Man" theory of history. The book ends with a virulent attack on current Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who has elevated Bolívar as his hero as he attempts to recreate the Bolivarian vision for a unified Latin America. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. -- M. Becker, Truman State University

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