This work is a survey of a continent's under-development and the role of the foreign capital and national politics in that process. Rejecting straightforward chronology, the author traces Latin America's exploitation and impoverishment through the history of its principal commodities. Over five centuries, Eduardo Galeano explores the minerals and crops which have made a region poor, while building the fortunes of US and European transnationals. From the gold and silver sought by the Spanish conquistadores to the oil and copper extracted by present-day foreign competitors, Galeano presents a picture of economic injustice. Blending historical fact with poetic imagery, this book is both an critique of transnational exploitation and a tribute to a plundered and suffering people.