Understanding South America is a book written by author and world traveller Clayton Sedgwick Cooper. This title is intended to be an introduction for American audiences to the continent and people of South America.
Understanding South America assumes a broad approach to examining South America. The author travelled the country interacting with the locals in many different countries and communities, and has constructed this book around tales of these travels. The ultimate purpose of the book is to reveal the tendencies and conditions of the lives of South American people. The book examines many different peoples, including chapters on Germans in South America, Peruvians, Cuzco and the modern aboriginal, Argentines, the men of Brazil, and many more topics. Some countries are explored in great depth, such as Brazil, while others receive only cursory mention. Illustrations are also included, which assist the author in contextualizing some of his writings.
Understanding South America is a noble early attempt at profiling the continent of South America and the varied peoples that make up its population. While the author is not immune to the colonial attitudes that are so pervasive in works of this nature written in the early twentieth century, Cooper does his best to provide an honest evaluation of his experiences. The strength of the title is the author's handling of various cultures as their own distinct groups, and not painting the entire continent with a single brush.
Readers interested in learning about the attitudes of Americans towards South America in the early twentieth century will surely find Understanding South America to be a fascinating read. The book is rich in historical context, and the narrative penned by Cooper is entertaining. This title is a worthwhile addition to the library of anybody interested in South American studies.
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