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Colombia Bibliography

If you cannot find these books at your local vendor or for purchase on-line, ask your public library if you can obtain them through interlibrary loan (there may be a small fee for this service). This is just a sample of books about Colombia; please write us with more of your suggestions.



History and Politics

Betancourt, Ingrid. Until Death Do Us Part: My Struggle to Reclaim Colombia (Ecco, 2002) — The former presidential candidate's memoir about fighting against the drug cartels and corruption in her country.


Betancourt, Ingrid. Even Silence Has an End. (Penguin Press, 2010) — Betancourt’s recounting of six years as a FARC hostage. Others that were released at the same time have penned books of their experiences: Clara Rojas, Captivity (Atria, 2010); and Marc Gonsalves and the other US contractors, Out of Captivity (Harper, 2010).


Borden, Mark. Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2001) — The rise and fall of Pablo Escobar.


Braun, Herbert. The Assassination of Gaitan: Public Life and Urban Violence in Colombia (University of Wisconsin Press, 1986) — How the assassination of presidential candidate Jorge Eliecer Gaitán affected the course of Colombian history.


Broderick, Walter. Camilo Torres: A Biography of the Priest Guerrillero (Doubleday, 1975) — A biography of the priest-turned-guerrilla-fighter Camilo Torres.


Bushnell, David. The Making of Modern Colombia: A Nation in Spite of Itself (University of California Press, 1993) — The first book on Colombian history published in English.


Gaitán, Jorge Eliecer. 1928 La masacre en las bananeras (Editorial Cometa de Papel, 1997) — Gaitán’s presentation of eyewitness reports of the 1928 banana worker massacre in Ciénaga.


Lynch, John. Simón Bolívar: A Life (Yale University Press, 2006) — The first biography in English of the Great Liberator in over 50 years.


Safford, Frank and Palacios, Marco. Colombia: Fragmented Land, Divided Society (Oxford University Press, 2001) — Colombian history and culture from before Columbus to the modern day.


Toledo, Rebecca, et al. War in Colombia: Made in USA (International Action Center, 2003) — A collection of essays by US and Latin American analysts, examining the US’ role in Colombia’s civil war.


Vallejo, Virginia. Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar (Random House, 2008) – A book by a TV journalist who also was the coke kingpin’s lover.





Social and Environmental Issues

MacNeil, Suzanne. “Reflections on Mining in Colombia: When ‘Development’ Creates Deprivation,” Colombia Journal Online, August 13, 2007 (


Molano, Lafredo. The Dispossessed: Chronicles of the Desterrados of Colombia (Haymarket Books, 2005) — Testimonies from internal refugees of Colombia's civil war.


Murillo, Mario. Colombia and the United States: War, Terrorism and Destabilization (Seven Stories Press, 2003) — The effects on Colombian civilians of the US War on Drugs.


Reuters Alert Net. Colombia Displacement — An excellent series of articles with about the effects of the War on Drugs, narcotrafficking and refugees (


Weisman, Alan. Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2008) — About the alternative, sustainable community deep in Colombia’s Llanos.






García Márquez, Gabriel — Nobel-prize winner Gabo is more well-known for his novels and short stories, like A Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. But he began his career as a journalist. The only book available in English is News of a Kidnapping (Noticia de un secuestro). If you read Spanish, other titles include Cuando era feliz e indocumentado and Crónicos y reportajes.


Isaacs, Jorge. María. — A piece of classic Colombian literature.


Olivella, Manuel Zapata. Chambacu: Black Slum (Latin American Literary Review Press, 1989), A Saint is Born In Chima (University of Texas Press, 1991) and Changó, the Biggest Badass (Texas Tech University Press, 2010) — Zapata Olivella was one of the most important Afro-Colombian writers and ethnographers.


Restrepo, Laura. Delirium (Vintage, 2008) and Leopard in the Sun (Vintage, 2000) – These are just of the many two works by this prolific, post-Boom Generation novelist. Several of her books are published in bilingual editions.


Vallejo, Fernando. Our Lady of the Assassins (Serpent’s Tail, 2001) — The novel upon which the movie was based.





Travelogues and Journalism

Balf, Todd. The Darkest Jungle: The True Story of the Darién Expedition and America's Ill-fated Race to Connect the Seas (Crown Publishers, 2003) — About the 1850s US Darien Exploring Expedition that explored the Darien Gap looking for a suitable place to build a canal.


Dudley, Steven S. Walking Ghosts: Murder and Guerrilla Politics in Colombia (Routledge, 2004) — Chronicles based on Dudley’s five years reporting from Colombia for National Public Radio.


Egan, Andrew Niall. Crossing the Darien Gap (Adventura, 2008) — A Canadian’s journey through the famed Gap when he was a teen.


Ereira, Alan. Heart of the World: The Elder Brothers (Knopf, 1992) — About the Kogui beliefs and way of life deep in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta


Guillermoprieto, Alma. The Heart that Bleeds: Latin America Now (Knopf, 1994) and Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America (Vintage Books, 2002) — A collection of this Mexican journalist’s articles for the New Yorker magazine.


Howe, Jason P. Colombia: Between the Lines (Cheshire, UK: Conflict Pics, 2008) — A photographic journey in the Red Zone.


Nicholl, Charles. The Fruit Palace: An Odyssey through Colombia’s Cocaine Underground (Saint Martin’s Press, 1986) — A gripping travelogue into the world of cocaine, from cultivation to smuggling.





Nature Guides

Gentry Alwyn H., and Vasquez, Rodolfo. A Field Guide to the Families and Genera of Woody Plants of Northwest South America (University Of Chicago Press, 1996)


McMullen, Miles; Donegan, Thomas M.; Quevedo, Alonso. Field Guide to the Birds of Colombia (Colombia: ProAves, 2010;


Restall, Robin; Rodner, Clemencia; Lentino, Miguel. Birds of Northern South America (Yale University Press, 2007) — One of the highest regarded bird guides for Colombia, in two volumes.





For Children

DuBois, Jill. Colombia (Marshall Cavendish, 2002) — A primer on Colombia.


Montgomery, Sy. Encantado: Pink Dolphin of the Amazon (Houghton Mifflin, 2002) — An invitation to learn about the magic and diversity of Colombia's Amazon.


Rawlins, Carol. The Orinoco River (Franklin Watts, 1999) — Getting to know the second greatest river of South America, the Orinoco.


Spengler, Kremena. Colombia: A Question and Answer Book (Capstone Press, 2006) — An introduction to Colombia’s history, geography and culture.


By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

27 Sep 2011

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