Cover image for Upside down : a primer for the looking-glass world
Upside down : a primer for the looking-glass world
Galeano, Eduardo, 1940-2015.
Uniform Title:
Patas arriba. English
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Metropolitan Books, 2000.
Physical Description:
358 pages : illustrations 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HN18 .G25 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



From the winner of the first Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom, a bitingly funny, kaleidoscopic vision of the first world through the eyes of the third

Eduardo Galeano, author of the incomparable Memory of Fire Trilogy, combines a novelist's intensity, a poet's lyricism, a journalist's fearlessness, and the strong judgments of an engaged historian. Now his talents are richly displayed in Upside Down , an eloquent, passionate, sometimes hilarious exposé of our first-world privileges and assumptions. In a series of lesson plans and a "program of study" about our beleaguered planet, Galeano takes the reader on a wild trip through the global looking glass. From a master class in "The Impunity of Power" to a seminar on "The Sacred Car"--with tips along the way on "How to Resist Useless Vices" and a declaration of "The Right to Rave"--he surveys a world unevenly divided between abundance and deprivation, carnival and torture, power and helplessness. We have accepted a reality we should reject, Galeano teaches us, one where machines are more precious than humans, people are hungry, poverty kills, and children toil from dark to dark.
A work of fire and charm, Upside Down makes us see the world anew and even glimpse how it might be set right.
"Galeano's outrage is tempered by intelligence, an ineradicable sense of humor, and hope." - Los Angeles Times , front page

Author Notes

Eduardo Galeano was born on September 3, 1940 in Montevideo, Uruguay. At the age of 13, he began publishing cartoons for the Uruguayan socialist newspaper El Sol. He worked as a journalist, historian, and political activist. While in his early 30s, he was imprisoned during a right-wing military coup and later forced to flee from Uruguay to Argentina. Later, another coup and several death threats forced him to leave Argentina for Spain where he lived in exile until he was permitted to return to Uruguay in 1984.

During his lifetime, he wrote numerous fiction and non-fiction works including Days and Nights of Love and War, Football in Sun and Shadow, Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, Guatemala: Occupied Country, The Book of Embraces, and Children of the Days. In 1989, he won the American Book Award for Memory of Fire. He died of cancer on April 13, 2015 at the age of 74.

(Bowker Author Biography) Eduardo Galeano, one of Latin America's most distinguished writers, journalists, & historians, is the author of the "Memory of Fire" trilogy (winner of the 1989 American Book Award), "Open Veins of Latin America," & many other works. He lives in Montevideo, Uruguay.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

One of Latin America's most honored historians and authors, Galeano (Memory of Fire) returns with more barbed and bewitching accounts of the contradictions of the First World, as filtered through the enlightened sensibilities of a Third World scholar-writer from Uruguay. He chastises the moneyed First World, which he terms the "upside down world," as a culture gone amok that "scorns honesty, punishes work, and prizes the lack of scruples." In a series of wickedly on-target parables, lessons and homilies that force the reader to question the state of the world as we know it, Galeano slams industrialized nations for turning their backs on critical issues of our time, including poverty, child abuse, patriarchal arrogance and political deception. In "Practicum: How to Make Friends and Succeed in Life," he examines the nature of power, be it cultural, political and religious, revealing how in each area power is maintained through secrecy, money and terror. Humor, sarcasm and careful research inform his short tales of greed and tyranny in full bloom in "Master Class on Impunity," which displays the author at his witty, sardonic best. Concluding his primer with the most potent of his lessons, "The End of the Millennium as Promise and Betrayal," he delivers his hardest blows with stream-of-consciousness truths that match the best work of Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce and Thomas Merton: "What has the world left us? A desolate, de-souled world, that practices the superstitious worship of machines and the idolatry of arms, an upside-down world with its left on its right, its belly button on its backside, and its head where its feet used to be." This is arguably Galeano's most spirited and eloquent examination of our topsy-turvy modern worldDa ticking literary hand grenade waiting to detonate in the mind of the reader. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

With this near-reverent look at current Latin American culture, Uruguayan Galeano adds to his impressive list of publishing credentials (e.g., the "Memory of Fire" trilogy) and awards (the American Book Award and the Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom). He subtitles this lively volume a "primer"Dthat is, a primer for pessimism and doom. Considering life in what he terms the South (for readers, the nations of Latin America), he highlights the hopelessness of countries that are not the United States. Galeano offers realistic perspectives on children, crime, racism and sexism, advertising and consumers, and haves and have-nots in a corporation-dominated world. His writing is entertaining and often humorous, yet it yields considerable insight into the everyday expectations of our neighbors to the south, and the author's conclusions are most troubling. Small inserts within the text illustrate his pointsDthe most telling of which focuses on a young boy consumed with watching television, who, when informed of the death of a favorite aging aunt, asks "Who killed her?" Highly recommended for academic and larger public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, 6/1/00; see "A Life Spent Turing Air into Lead," p. 235, for an interview with the author.DEd.]DBoyd Childress, Auburn Univ. Lib., AL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.