Garibaldi in South America

An Exploration

September 2020 9781787383135 232pp


For over twelve years in the first half of the nineteenth century, Giuseppe Garibaldi, the hero of Italian unification, lived, learned and fought in South America. He was tortured, escaped death on countless occasions, and met his Brazilian wife, Anita, who eloped with him in 1839. From then on, she would share in Garibaldi’s personal and political odyssey, first in the breakaway republic of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil, and then as Montevideo’s admiral and general in the Uruguayan civil war.

Richard Bourne breathes life and understanding into these spectacular South American adventures, which also shed light on the creation of Italy. Garibaldi’s Redshirts liberated Sicily and Naples wearing ponchos adopted by his Italian Legion in Montevideo. His ideas, his charismatic command of volunteers, and his naive dislike of politicking were all infused by his earlier experiences in South America. Bourne combines historical research with his travels in Uruguay and southern Brazil to explore contemporary awareness of and reflection on how the past can influence or be transformed by the needs of today. Now, at a time of narrow identity politics, Garibaldi’s unifying zeal and advocacy for subjugated peoples everywhere offer an exemplary lesson in transnational political idealism.


‘Bourne writes with attractive, straightforward enthusiasm … this is a useful history of Garibaldi’s unusual apprenticeship among the cowboys of South America.’ — Literary Review

‘Offers a detailed account of Italian military general Garibaldi’s life, and how he later came to be known as a ‘hero of two worlds’. …learned and informative.’ — The Wire

‘Bourne succeeds in vividly describing what Garibaldi did during these formative years, what he learnt and brought back with him to Europe, what happened after he left South America and how he and Anita are remembered in South America and Italy.’ — Cold Type

‘While chronicling Garibaldi’s South American wars, this book analyses, in lively style, his reckless charisma, his marriage to the rebellious Anita and their controversial political legacies. Bourne reveals one of the most adventurous and inspiring characters of the nineteenth century.’ — David McLean, Emeritus Professor of History, King’s College London

‘Bourne’s personal, wide-ranging book illuminates Garibaldi’s career as “Hero of Two Worlds”: how he and fellow Italian exiles fought for freedom in South America, the impact on the struggle for Italian liberation, and Garibaldi’s emergence as a European freedom fighter.’ — Spencer M. Di Scala, Professor of History Emeritus, University of Massachusetts Boston

‘Richard Bourne has written a vibrant book on General Garibaldi’s stay in South America. Written with clarity and elegance, the author describes Garibaldi’s life in Brazil and Uruguay and his participation in some important historical events that occurred in both countries during the XIX century. Then the author links the past with the present, in such a way that allows the reader to appreciate Garibaldi’s legacy and makes very interesting reflections on the influence and controversies that Garibaldi still awakens in Brazil Uruguay.’ — Adjunct Professor Dr Enrique Hernandez Sierra, Faculty of Law, University of the Republic of Uruguay.


Richard Bourne has been writing about South America since his Political Leaders of Latin America was published in 1969, and his many books include Lula of Brazil: The Story So Far (2008).

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