The Atacama Desert, a coastal area where the borders of Chile, Peru, and Bolivia meet, was a region of little interest in the late nineteenth century until European research on the use of nitrates in fertilizers and explosives rendered the droppings of millions of sea birds a valuable commodity. In a move that echoed the California Gold Rush, the three neighboring countries soon battled for control of the region. In 1879, a comparatively modern and powerful Chile seized Bolivia's coastal province, and a secret alliance between Peru and Bolivia soon led to a full-scale war, one which saw the employment of much new military technology.
Using such new weapons as the breech-loading rifle, rapid-fire cannon, ironclad warships, torpedoes, and electronic mines, Chile quickly crushed the allied armies, but a guerrilla war would drag on for years. While the three armies fought over some of the most inhospitable terrain imaginable, from burning, waterless deserts to snow-clogged mountain passes at 15,000 feet, their governments bumbled and wrangled. In the end, the lure of easy wealth undermined the economies of all three nations and served no good purpose when the market for nitrates soon evaporated, leaving all three much poorer for the experience.
Bruce W. Farcau
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Finally, a book about this conflict by an American author who combines modern scholarly methods with readable style! Bruce Farcau writes with knowledge, flair and compassion about his subject, sustaining remarkable objectivity throughout the book. Money, deceit, gallantry, violence, tactical and strategic brilliance and folly --- The War of the Pacific is a splendid microcosm of all the elements of military, economic, and political strategy, and Farcau does it justice. His analysis of the causes of the war is impeccable, without the cant found in many South American and European authors, or the dry didactic tone of academic dissertations. His humane and balanced treatment of the conduct of a war that includes the first combat on the high seas between ironclads, a major amphibious invasion, set-piece battles using modern weapons, and a protracted guerrilla war, is admirable. I recommend it most highly to any library, whether personal, academic or professional, that deals with...
One of the little heralded wars of South America is the War of the Pacific. This war pitted Chile against the combined Armies of Bolivia and Peru. Chile (the Prussia of South America) defeated both nations in the first year of war and took the nitrate lands of both Peru and Bolivia. Then Chile invaded Peru and captured the capital. Why is Bolivia landlocked? She lost her coastland to Chile in this war. Farcau does a good job detailing how Chile was better organized in finance and the military to defeat her neighbors who had a larger population. Control of the seas by the modern Chile Navy also had a drastic effect on the Allies (Bolivia and Peru). As detailed in a previous review, the author does a great job of relating the history of this war in a scholarly and readable format. One thing missing in this book is maps, which would have lent the reader an understanding of the geography of the war. I cannot understand why maps were left out. The book is a good read about a...
Bruce Farcau's book as to Bolivia's disastrous war with Chile is very truthful in every aspect, historical data, and documentation. It also demonstrates of Bolivia's lack of a military character, that was again demonstarted in the 20th. century, in the Chaco War. The historical details of Chinese migration in Peru is astonishing, and well written, and it also highlights the mercenary efforts of the Chilean officer Patricio Lynch, who utilised the Chinese (who were kept in slave-like conditions), to his benefit. This is a must read for any Latin American historian, such as myself. Well done and written.
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