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Book Discussion: Silver, Sword, and Stone, by Marie Arana

Americas Society / Council of the Americas

October 8, 2019


Please join Americas Society/Council of the Americas for a discussion of Marie Arana’s latest book Silver, Sword, and Stone: Three Crucibles in the Latin American Story (Simon & Schuster). Cecilia Tornaghi, managing editor of Americas Quarterly, will interview the author and moderate a Q&A session with the audience.

Through the stories of a Peruvian gold miner, an exiled Cuban criminal, and a Spanish priest in Bolivia, Arana weaves a tapestry of historical research with up-to-the-minute reporting and cultural analysis to give readers an urgent look at Latin America today. Silver, Sword, and Stone traverses a wide terrain of time and topics, showing readers how the past lives on today. “History has a way of slipping fitfully into the future,” writes Arana, and nowhere is that clearer than in the people she profiles. They are emblematic of three obsessions that have held Latin Americans fast for the past millennium: silver, sword, and stone.

Ultimately, it is the people in Silver, Sword, and Stone who tell us the most about the place. “Chroniclers of old have accustomed us to see history from the eye of the invader, from the perspective of conquest,” writes Arana. “We tend to think of the arc of these Americas as the story of Columbus and the Taíno. The story of Cortés and the Aztecs. Pizarro and the Incas. Cabeza de Vaca and the Guaraní. Spain and its colonies. The tinpot dictator and his unfortunate casualties. The Catholic Church and the pagans. The vast world economy and the coveted veins that lie dormant in the earth. Until we understand the ‘ands’ of history we cannot hope to understand the region as it is now.”

In telling the history of Latin America—the region’s predilection for strongmen, the enduring role of the church and other indomitable institutions—Arana gives texture to the region’s relationship with tern cultures and illuminates both the modern border crisis and the North’s role in ensuring it goes on. Arana also warns readers that until Latin America and its neighbors understand how its people have been shaped, sharpened, and stunted by iniquities, the crucibles of silver, sword, and stone will continue to write its story.

“To trace the soul of a continent is an extraordinary feat, and Marie Arana does it with scholarly precision, moral thoroughness and elegance of style. For anyone interested in understanding—really understanding—what Latin America is and where it comes from, Silver, Sword and Stone has to be the first step.”

—Juan Gabriel Vásquez, author of The Sound of Things Falling

Registration fee: This event is complimentary for all registrants. Prior registration is required.

Copies of the book will be available for sale. Arana will sign copies from 7:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Event Information: Cara Caponi | | 1-212-277-8368
Individual Membership Information: Lee Evans | | 1-212-277-8384
COA Corporate Membership Information: Mila Fontana | | 1-212-277-8331
Note: View a list of COA corporate members.
Press Inquiries:
Cancellation: Please contact Juan Serrano-Badrena at before 3:00 p.m. on Monday, October 7.

Marie Arana

Biographer, Essayist, and Novelist

Marie Arana was born in Lima, Peru, the daughter of a Peruvian father and an American mother. She is the author of the critically praised memoir American Chica, which was a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN-Memoir Award, and the winner of a Books for a Better Life Award. She is also the author of two novels, Cellophane and Lima Nights, as well as The Writing Life, a collection from her well-known column for The Washington Post.

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Cecilia Tornaghi

Managing Editor, Americas Quarterly

Cecilia Tornaghi is the managing editor of Americas Quarterly. A Brazilian-American journalist, she has been covering Latin America for the last 20 years with a focus on policy, business and economics. She spent 13 years at Bloomberg, starting as a Nasdaq reporter, then as an anchor, news editor, deputy managing editor for Bloomberg Brasil TV and lastly as Latin America correspondent for Bloomberg TV interviewing heads of state, cabinet members, and C-suite executives from across the region.

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