Gold and Swords

Daniel Balmaceda


If a technological genius were ever to invent a time machine, the journalist and historian Daniel Balmaceda would be its most frequent user. He'd never stop accumulating time miles researching unusual aspects of Argentine history.

Even without a time machine, Balmaceda's erudite, entertaining prose takes us back to the dirty, foul-smelling, improvised Buenos Aires of the 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries. A town growing without a plan, populated by residents who bathed very irregularly, crazy priests and extravagant, greedy governors fonder of smuggled goods than their king. In a town with pretentions of grandeur, a bureaucrat presented his faeces as evidence in a trial, a viceroy left his post for love, a transvestite sailed into the Malvinas and Cabildo, months before the May Revolution, was only discussing the ripeness of peaches, a few infidelities, some unfulfilled declarations of love and even how to declare war on Denmark. The first three hundred years of that magical town are a dense fabric of tragic, horrifying and romantic events.

In Oro y espadas (Gold and Swords) Balmaceda invites us on a journey into an enigmatic but revealing past when the Argentinian identity and way of life were still in their formative years.


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