Genre: Literature & fiction, war, political, military
Length: 336 Pages
Publishing Date: August 6, 2012
Buying Links for The Lieutenant Of San Porfirio
From the Blurb:
That is why, my new friends the visitor was still speaking. Freddy snapped back to the moment. I would like to make a special request to you from our Comandante, the freely and democratically elected president of Venezuela. He is holding a special socialist youth summit, where la juventud socialista will come from all over the world to learn the lessons of our Revolucion Pacifica. Freddy s heart skipped a beat. He looked up into the dark brown eyes of his new hero and was sure that the message was for him alone. Please, come. Take a folleto, and if you are interested, follow the instructions to sign up. And with that, the presentation was over. The first to jump out of his seat, Freddy accosted the speaker with questions. The class started to clear out . Nobody else seemed interested, but Freddy made up for it with his enthusiasm. They talked for a long time about the government, the political organization, and some history. Finally, Freddy asked about the student movement he d seen on TV. They talk specifically about this one girl Immediately, a light-skinned young man with dark hair and a thick accent barged angrily into the classroom. How dare you? What do you know about it? ”
The Lieutenant of San Porfirio by Joel D. Hirst is set in the revolutionary Socialist Republic of Venezuela and tells story of four people; ruthless Lieutenant Machado who has succeeded in dragging himself out of poverty and oblivion and is now ready to go to any extent to rise even higher; the naïve, overweight, and spotty American youth Freddy whose glamorized view of the revolution leads him to sign up for a socialist youth summit, a student exchange program where he thinks he can make a difference and create mark of his own; the activist student leader Pancho Randelli , an idealist, voice of other youths; and an old oligarch, Dona Esmerelda who after losing her business, properties, and most of the wealth to government’s nationalization policies feels violated at the prospect of sharing her colonial mansion with poverty stricken people from barrios and plans a revolt.
I’m definitely not into political books but despite my reluctant to read such books, I enjoyed The Lieutenant of San Porfirio immensely. It is absorbing, highly addictive, and an intrigue read.
It’s rare for a dense book to be a page turner, but Hirst’s book score ninety-nine percent points for being highly addictive despite density of the plot. I took one percent out because of Hirst’s tendency to delves into unnecessary background of minor characters at times.
The other thing that bothered me was the magical realism; the little bit of magical realism seemed forced and was completely unnecessary in my opinion and book would have done well without that part.
Having said that, there is nothing that tires you out; from description of the exotic beauty of Venezuelan land to day to day lives of the Venezuelan people, the nationalization of industries, businesses, and schools and the excessive government corruption, all the details are woven together into an arresting tale and the author succeeds greatly at capturing the real essence of Venezuela.
The other strength of Hirst’s writing is his great characterization. All the four protagonists as well as secondary characters are very real and as a reader, you will be drawn right into their lives. Most characters are grey except for a few black. And the black ones (there’re not many) get worst and worst as the story advances. Machado’s resilience to advance in power turns him into a ruthless oppurtunist who doesn’t shy away from having blood of innocent people on his hand.
Hirst beautifully captures the mob-mentality; Freddy’s willingness and involvement in riots has less to do with his gullibility and more of an on-the-spur-loss-of-his-sense-of-individual-identity under the influence of mob mentality. After losing restraint, he gets involved in extreme violence, a behavior that he wouldn’t have engaged in if alone.
There is this suspense element that’s solely reserved for major characters in the book; Lieutenant Machado is aware of it and so do the readers. The awareness on readers’ part stirs up this sense of a fast approaching dread as the story advances toward its conclusion.
The ending is a cliff-hanger and I’m already excited to read second book in the series.
Do try this book if you like well-written fiction. It doesn’t matter what genre you’re interested in, if you like to read quality fiction, this book is for you.