Thursday, April 17
Simon Bolivar, known as the liberator of South America, is the greatest figure in Latin American history. Bolivar freed six countries from Spanish rule, traveling more than 75,000 miles on horseback from the Amazon Jungles to the Andes Mountains to do so. His life is the stuff of Hollywood legend: epic and heroic, he fought battle after battle in punishing terrain, forged uncertain coalitions of competing forces and races, lost his beautiful wife soon after they married (and never remarried), and died relatively young. Marie Arana will examine Bolivar’s dramatic and many-faceted life: fearless general, brilliant strategist, the consulate diplomat, passionate abolitionist, gifted writer, and flawed politician.
Marie Arana was born in Lima, Peru, the daughter of a Peruvian father and American mother, and moved to the United States at the age of nine. She completed her BA in Russian Language and Literature at Northwestern University, her MA in Linguistics and Sociolinguistics at Hong Kong University, and earned a certificate of scholarship (Mandarin language) at Yale University in China. She began her career in book publishing, becoming Vice President and Senior Editor at both Harcourt Brace and Simon & Schuster publishers in New York. In 1993, she started work at The Washington Post as Deputy Editor of the book review section, “Book World.” She was promoted to Editor in Chief of that section, a position she held for 10 years. In 2008,Washingtonian magazine called her one of the Most Powerful People in Washington. She has written widely in several genres, including a memoir about her bicultural childhood, American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood, which was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award. Her most recent novel, published in January 2009, is Lima Nights. She has written the introductions for many books on Latin America, Hispanicity and biculturalism. Her latest book is Bolívar: American Liberator, a biography of the Latin American founder Simón Bolívar. Currently, she is a Writer at Large for The Washington Post, a guest op-ed columnist at the New York Times, and a senior consultant on hemispheric affairs to the Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington.