Murray, Pamela. For glory and Bolivar: the remarkable life of Manuela Sáenz, 1797-1856. Texas, 2008. 222p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780292718296, $55.00. Reviewed in 2009oct CHOICE.
In recent decades, Manuela Sáenz has become a bit of a curious feminist hero in Ecuador and Venezuela. She was the mistress of South American independence leader Simón Bolívar, and is often called the "Liberator of the Liberator" for having saved him from an assassination attempt in 1828. Because of her close association with Bolívar, Venezuelan historian Denzil Romero has termed Sáenz one of the most important women in Latin American history. Nevertheless, professional historians have largely ignored Sáenz's contributions. Murray (Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham) seeks to correct that omission with this new biography that traces Sáenz's life from her illegitimate birth in Quito through her romantic liaison with Bolívar to her death in exile in Peru. Sáenz was an intelligent and capable person, but her contributions were overshadowed by, and largely defined in relation to, male independence leaders. As a result, this biography becomes as much a story of Bolívar as of Sáenz. Nevertheless, Murray admirably attempts to recover Sáenz's legacy, and effectively uses Sáenz to illustrate how women in the late colonial and early republican periods had more political rights and voice than is commonly assumed. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. -- M. Becker, Truman State University
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