Without doubt, Clinchandhill is an excellent writer and “47 Hours…” is a work of immense quality, right from the very first line. The author’s grasp and narration of political history and Latin American political culture is insightful and/or incredibly well researched, and you suspect that this book was a long time in the creation – the outcome was definitely worth the investment. I am left in little doubt that Clinchandhill has had first-hand experience of the country in which the book is set; he offers a real taste of Venezuelan culture, not to mention the cuisine, which is affectionately lavished, for good measure, in this book.
I’m not generally a big lover of political thrillers, but this true(ish) account of socialist and revolutionary politics had me enthralled, and I could barely put it down. Its events should serve as a stark warning to those of us in western society, who feel that we are immune to guerrilla politics and the power of media fallacy; Venezuela is just one in a long line of countries which knows that dictators usually come in the name of democracy and ideology, and the real question in such a landscape is: when comparing the new authority to the one which it replaced, which is the worst dictatorship? An impressively open-minded case study, which is vivid and highly detailed, Clinchandhill serves the account with disciplined impartiality and objectivity, creating multi-layered characters on all sides of the story. Perhaps, in this respect, the only viewpoint I considered a touch unrepresented is the people themselves – they feature as an anonymous and uniform crowd, but there seems no human reality input into life under Hugo Chavez’s leadership, which may have offered context. Of course, I understand the book is already long – probably as long as it could realistically get away with - so I certainly won’t nit-pick that.
As well as being long, the book is talky, and I would have liked to see more proportionate scenery and action-detail to dialogue. Still, this book is very well-crafted and well-timed, and, while perhaps not everybody’s cup of tea, I glided through it, eagerly moving to the next chapter.
Unfortunately, I’m very sorry to say that, in contrast to its many qualities, I did have big concerns about the finished proof – the fact is that this book has not been polished, which is a real shame. There are far too many typos and grammar errors to be overlooked for publication, particularly in the absence of pronouns and the like; many of the sentences and paragraphs do seem all the more long-winded because of misplaced or missing commas. It is disappointing that such a wonderful work of quality is undermined by technicalities, which could and should be optimized.
Still, that aside, I admit I surprised myself with “47 Hours…”. With great dialogue – officious, yet naturalistic - and endearing characters, Clinchandhill has created something very, very good, and I do hope he opts to perfect it. I am in no doubt that this author will continue to produce work of a similar quality, and I wish him every bit of the success he deserves with it.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: clinchandhill hugo chavez venezuela coup book review matt mcavoy political thriller