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Simon Collier, Artemis Cooper, Maria Susana Azzi, Richard Martin, Ken Haas (photographer)


This marvellous coffee table book tackles the history of the tango from many different perspectives: its very early origins at the turn of the Century, paying special attention to Negro influences such as the Candombe; its triumphal conquering of Europe in 1913-1914; and of course, an account of the matchless Golden Age. Now available for the first time in soft covers at a much reduced price. A must.

Amazon UK price: £12.50
Amazon US price: $22.76

1st paperback edition | 208 pages | Thames and Hudson | 4 September, 1997
ISBN: 0500279799

The Meaning of Tango: The Story of the Argentinian Dance

Christine Denniston

The book that the Golden Age dancers themselves never wrote!
- Barry Jones


The Tango was the cornerstone of Argentine culture, and has lasted for more than a hundred years, popular today in America, Japan and Europe. "The Meaning of Tango" traces the roots of this captivating dance, from its birth in the poverty stricken Buenos Aires, the craze of the early 20th century, right up until it's revival today, thanks to shows such as Strictly Come Dancing. This book offers history, knowledge, teachings and in-sights which makes it valuable for beginners, yet its in-depth analysis makes it essential for experienced dancers. It is an elegant and cohesive critique of the fascinating tale of the Tango, which not only documents its culture and politics, but is also technically useful.


Amazon UK price: £6.99

Hardcover | Anova | Sept 2007
ISBN: 1906032165

Tango: An Art History of Love

Robert Farris Thompson


Robert Farris Thompson, Professor of Art History at Yale University, is one of the world's foremost authorities on African and Afro-Atlantic cultures He brings his knowledge of the African roots of American music to bear in this new work. Unequalled research on Canyengue.

Amazon UK price: £11.21
Amazon US price: $18.81

1st edition | 368 pages | Pantheon | 2 Oct 2005
ISBN: 0375409319

Tango: Creation of a Cultural Icon

Jo Bailm


This is not another thinly disguised pHD thesis, but an honest attempt to address the question of why tango so fascinates European and North American culture. Well researched and calmly written, it's a worthwhile addition to your library


In "Tango: Creation of a Cultural Icon", Jo Baim dispels common stereotypes of the tango and tells the real story behind this rich and complex dance. Despite its exoticism, the tango of this time period is a very accessible dance, especially as European and North American dancers adapted it. Modern ballroom dancers can enjoy a "step" back in time with the descriptions included in this book. Almost as interesting as the history of the tango is the cultural response to it: cities banned it, army officers were threatened with demotion if caught dancing it, clergy and politicians wrote diatribes against it. Newspaper headlines warned that people died from dancing the tango and that it would be the downfall of civilization. The vehemence of these anti-tango outbursts confirms one thing: the tango was a cultural force to be reckoned with!

Amazon UK price: £11.21
Amazon US price: $18.81

1st edition | 224 pages | Indiana University Press | 13 Aug 2007
ISBN: 0253219051

Le Grand Tango : The Life and Music of Astor Piazzolla

Maria Susana Azzi, Simon Collier

Le Grand Tango : The Life and Music of Astor Piazzolla

This is the best and most complete document about the life and work of Astor Piazzolla. The authors inter-link Piazzolla's work with the major events of his life and the artistic and political context of the time.

Amazon UK Price: £23.99
Amazon US Price: $40.00

Hardcover | 384 pages | Oxford University Press | April 2000
ISBN: 0195127773

Astor Piazzolla - A Memoir

Natalio Gorin

Le Grand Tango : The Life and Music of Astor Piazzolla

In 1990, Buenos Aires-based journalist Gorin interviewed his friend Astor Piazzolla over the course of three days, just months before the famous Argentine bandoneon player and composer of tangos was stricken by a debilitating stroke. This book is the edited transcription of those sessions (including helpful annotations from the translator), with additional material from letters written by Piazzolla and reminiscences of some of his associates and fellow musicians. While he holds forth, the cosmopolitan Piazzolla, raised in New York and schooled partly in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, comes across as egoist, imp, and impassioned musician. Ever the performer, he boasts, confesses, pays homage to, and bitterly complains about people in turn. Gorin's chapter summarizing Piazzolla's life and significance as well as the commentaries of others are dry in contrast.

© Cahners Business Information, Inc

Amazon UK Price: £12.04
Amazon US Price: $17.90

Paperback | 260 pages | Amadeus Press | October 2001
ISBN: 1574670670

Tango, an Anxious Quest for Freedom

Rodolfo & Gloria Dinzel

Tango, an Anxious Quest for Freedom

Dinzel's book is the only one ever written by a dancer. This is not unrelated to the fact that Rodolfo Dinzel is not your typical milonguero; he is more of an intellectual. His book, whether or not you agree with everything he says, will certainly stimulate, and some of his insights are of great value. For instance, I don't agree with what he has to say about posture, but when he speaks about manner, declaring that tango is fundamentally about manner, and that tango-dance is quite a different thing to simply moving to the rhythm of tango, I couldn't agree more. His discussions of "volume" - the spaces occupied by the dancers - is intriguing. A valuable and thought provoking book.

Amazon UK Price: £12.00
Amazon US Price: $13.60

Paperback | 115 pages | Abrazos (20 June, 2000)
ISBN: 3000061193

Paper Tangos

Julie Taylor

Paper Tangos

A deeply personal memoir of one woman's encounter with the tango. Julie Taylor, ballet dancer and putative anthropologist, went to Buenos Aires to make a cultural study of ritual dance. She soon finds herself swept away by a world that confounds her attempts to categorise it.

Arriving in an Argentina still in the grip of the political violence of the junta, Taylor finds herself grappling with the theme of violence in Argentine society and struggling to reconcile her feminist analysis of the dance's roles with her own direct response to its poetry. Her confusion is expressed in a series of photographs in the margins which form a flip book animation of a tango which turns into a violent attack before transforming into sheets of falling paper.

A unique, idiosyncratic and honest book.

Amazon UK Price: £11.99
Amazon US Price: $19.95

Paperback | 136 pages | Duke University Press | June 1998
ISBN: 0822321912

Time Out Guide to Buenos Aires

Time Out Guide to Buenos Aires

At last - a decent guide book for Buenos Aires! Smart, modern and sassy, this book is written from the point of view of the modern person making a city break - a better description of a tanguero than the "world traveller" addressed by guide books such as Lonely Planet & The Rough Guides.

Amazon UK Price: £7.57
Amazon US Price: $13.57

Paperback | 288 pages | Time Out Group Ltd | Fourth edition | 3 Jul 2008
ISBN: 1846700582

Long After Midnight at the Niño Bien

Brian Winter

Bad Times in Buenos Aires

This very refreshing book is the story of a young American college graduate who decided to go to Buenos Aires for a year, and once there, to learn the tango.

Brian Winter - now an editor - writes very well and he both meets and befriends some very colourful characters. His visit also happens to coincide with the Argentine economic crisis. What really makes the book though is the innocence with which he encounters the tango's often shady world. Almost without realising it, he falls in love with the country.

Great fun.

Amazon UK Price: £12.99
Amazon US Price: $16.47

Hardback | 272 pages | Heinemann | 7 August 2008
ISBN: 043401611X (UK edition) / 1586483706 (US edition)

Bad Times in Buenos Aires

Miranda France

Bad Times in Buenos Aires

A devastating critique of contemporary Argentine society. Miranda France clearly loves Buenos Aires and its inhabitants but finds herself unable to bear living there any longer. Underneath the culture and carefully manicured surface she finds a dysfunctional city suffering from endemic corruption and simmering with barely suppressed rage ("bronca").

Sure to make very uncomfortable reading for tangueros.

from Kirkus Reviews

Here is a portrait of a city as a complete basket case: Buenos Aires through the eyes of English journalist France. Having moved to the Latin American capital city in 1993 to work as a freelance reporter, France found the Paris of the South a picture of catastrophe: pollution that asphyxiates, a relentless din, a plague of rats, drivers who "believe a car accident is an act of God, and cannot be avoided." The telephones don't work, or the bureaucrats; holes pock the streets; the heat and damp addle and inebriate, making life a misery. Go ahead and choose from the 300 brands of condoms; still, only 8 are safe. Try to get keys replicated or get anything done without a bribe or a connection. Outside the metropolis, the worst-run provinces are little more than fiefdoms. Certainly worst of all, worse than the empty promises of Peronism, the endemic corruption ("honesty had rarely been the best policy in Argentina"), the murderous and sentimental attachment to the Malvinas were the horrors of the "dirty war" of the 1970s, when gunmen in dark glasses operated with impunity to rid the country of not just Montoneros and political subversives, but "goody-goody" doctors who tended to the poor, writers of idealistic poetry, and, remarked a particularly zealous officer, "finally we shall kill the timid." The years of bottomless terror, France avers, with plenty of ammunition, have resulted in a culture of silence, bitter and anxious, that throws a pervasive unease over the everyday life of Argentineans. Roll this all together and it ferments into a picture of a country off the rails and barely contained in its understandable fury. There are bright spots in this bleak portrait, other than France's cannily affecting writing: cafés and bookshops and friends she loved, there is Borges and the tango, and the knowledge that she can leave.

- © Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved

Amazon UK Price: £7.19

Paperback | 220 pages | Phoenix Press | new edition 7 January, 1999
ISBN: 0753805510

A Lexicon of Terror : Argentina and the Legacies of Torture

Marguerite Feitlowitz

A Lexicon of Terror
A magisterial work on a great subject. This is a book everyone should read.
- Susan Sontag
Marguerite Feitlowitz's impressive account of the Argentinean horror (1976-83) is lucid, authoritative and appalling. No ghastly stone is left unturned. The murderers walk free, of course, pardoned under an amnesty. The story Marguerite Feitlowitz tells is both profoundly disgusting and quite heartbreaking.
-Harold Pinter


"We were all out in la charca, and there they were, coming over the ridge, a battalion ready for war, against a schoolhut full of children." Tanks roaring over farmlands, pregnant mothers tortured, their babies stolen and sold on the black market, homes raided in the dead of night, ordinary citizens kidnapped and never seen again - such were the horrors of Argentina's dirty war. In this text, Marguerite Feitlowitz exposes the nightmare of sadism, paranoia, and deception the military dictatorship unleashed on the Argentine people, a nightmare that would claim over 30,000 civilians from 1976 to 1983 and whose leaders were recently issued warrants by a Spanish court for the crime of genocide. Feitlowitz explores the perversion of language under state terrorism, both as it's used to conceal and confuse ("The Parliament must be disbanded to rejuvenate democracy") and to domesticate torture and murder.



Argentina still struggles as a nation with the shame and horror of the so-called "dirty-war" of the decade following Juan Peron's death. During that horrific time, torture and kidnapping were the instruments of choice for the enforcement of political will. Feitlowitz unflinchingly examines life under sadistic military rule with detailed descriptions of the experiences of prisoners in concentration camps. The Argentinean vocabulary now includes words like desaparacido (disappeared person) and chupado (sucked up or kidnapped), vivid reminders of how commonplace kidnapping and murder became. Victims, often guilty only of nothing more than practicing psychology or journalism or being Jewish, have not been forgotten.

Though Feitlowitz touches on the linguistic effects of government terrorism in Argentina her book's greatest strength lies in the voice it gives the victims. The author spent years talking to survivors of the terror as well as some of the people responsible for instigating it. What A Lexicon of Terror does particularly well is capture the ongoing consequences of the dirty war - victims encountering their tormentors on the streets, Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo still marching to remind their government that the fates of thousands of disappeared are still not known, a government held hostage by the fear of army uprisings should any attempt to bring culprits to justice be made. Argentina is the subject of this particular Lexicon, but surely the citizens of other nations such as Chile, Guatemala, and El Salvador might see their own experiences mirrored here


How can one narrate the unspeakable? The unimaginable, the horror?... The Argentine military dictatorship that devastated that country between 1976 and 1983 vividly actualizes the difficulties of narrating an understandable tale of horror.

This book by Marguerite Feitlowitz, Preceptor in Expository Writing at Harvard, explores a point that has seldom been examined in the analysis of this period; the way in which, precisely, language and terror were linked, the use of language to further terror and the legacy left by that vocabulary in testimonies and memory, the remnants of a new lexicon that gave different meanings to words and changed them forever... Feitlowitz studies and analyzes this use of language as a means of making horror more "natural" and as a significant component in the construction of a supposed "normal reality."

The investigation is made up of five chapters; the preface and introduction inform the reader about the way in which Feitlowitz developed her research and provides the historical-political context of the dictatorship. Both the preface and the introduction are valuable to two different types of audiences: Argentine readers, who know the facts, but will find a new focus in this text, and foreign readers who will find basic, but not banal, information with which to orient themselves.

Each of the chapters concentrates on some aspect in which this relationship between terror and language is manifested in this military regime... Based on her investigations and on extensive interviews with survivors and family members of the disappeared, the author reconstructs the "lexicon of terror" as expressed in slogans, magazines, propaganda, and daily language... This work - which provides outstanding documentation - concludes with a chapter about the "Scilingo Effect": the impact of the words of a repentant torturer who in 1995 publicly confessed on television about his participation in death flights...

Feitlowitz' book is particularly important because it focuses on an aspect of the dictatorship that has barely been examined, and it does so with seriousness and rigor. But, moreover, it is important because this aspect - the perverse use of language - allows one to glimpse the daily horror, made banal, in which the Argentine populace lived for almost a decade... Finally this book which analyzes the power of the word, the perverse force that words acquired in the hands of state terrorism, arrives on the scene to powerfully incorporate its word with all the other discourses that have been struggling in the last years to eliminate the forgetting, the silence, the amnesia, that those in power would yet once again impose on this history of horror, this legacy of death.

Ana María Amar Sánchez, Associate Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard University

Amazon UK Price: £11.99
Amazon US Price: $19.95

Paperback | 302 pages | Oxford University Press | September 1999
ISBN: 0195134168

The Flight : Confessions of an Argentine Dirty Warrior

Horacio Verbitsky

The Flight : Confessions of an Argentine Dirty Warrior
A landmark book!... Read it and pray it doesn't happen ever again.
- Ariel Dorfman


Incensed by what he perceived as injustices in the treatment of former members of Argentine's military dictatorship, retired navy officer Francisco Scilingo stunned his countrymen and the world by openly confessing to his own participation in the practice of pushing live political dissidents out of airplanes over the South Atlantic during the course of Argentina's dirty war. In a series of interviews with Horacio Verbitsky, Scilingo confirms what was rumoured for years but always denied by the Argentine military. He recounts his inside knowledge of the monstrous campaign of systematic torture and death waged by the military from 1976 to 1983, he details the military's practice of rotating personnal so that everyone including the officers would be complicit, and he talks about the Church's awareness and seeming endorsement of many of the atrocities.


Between 1976 and 1983, about two thousand political dissidents were pushed from airborne Argentine military planes into the waters of the Rio de la Plata or the Atlantic Ocean. At the start of their horrific descent into death, all were living and breathing. Many later washed up on Uruguayan beaches, bloated beyond recognition. Retired navy officer Lieutenant Commander Adolfo Francisco Scilingo only pushed out thirty personally. Nevertheless, it was more than he could live with. He approached Horacio Verbitsky and broke the military's code of silence about Argentina's "dirty war."



A chilling as-told-to memoir by a man whose job it once was to murder political dissidents in the name of military dictatorship. A great code of silence once surrounded Argentina's so-called dirty war of the late 1970s and early 1980s, during which several thousand political opponents were "disappeared." Whether willingly or out of fear, journalists did not report the daily discoveries of mangled bodies, and until recently the Argentine government maintained that it had never officially endorsed the campaign of terror. Francisco Scilingo breaks that silence: A naval officer who routinely kidnapped suspected dissidents and threw them from planes and helicopters into the South Atlantic, he had "never been able to overcome the shock that the execution [of military orders] caused me." What impresses is not so much that Scilingo chose to speak as his reasons for doing so: As a military man, he concludes that the military's involvement in terrorism was simply "not very ethical." Scilingo could readily claim that he was merely following orders, but he does not; he squarely accepts responsibility for his crimes. His confession, delivered first on television, then in newspaper interviews, and now in this book with his amanuensis, Argentine journalist Verbitsky, has caused a great stir in Argentina. Before Scilingo went public, President Carlos Menem pardoned all military personnel involved in the dirty war, saying, "Of the two parties involved in it, one was fighting for the rule of law and the others were constantly violating that law." Afterward, Menem ordered the military to undergo "self-criticism," with the navy's chief admiral reporting that the methods Scilingo and his fellow warriors used "were unacceptable even in the cruel context of war." Now, however, the generals and admirals are retracting their confessions, and Scilingo has been jailed for making fraudulent claims. The dirty war thus goes on, despite this valuable book.

© Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Amazon US Price: $22.00

Hardcover | New Press | August 1996
ISBN: 1565840097

© Michael Lavocah / 2000-2018