This book was conceived in Berkeley, written largely in Caracas, and com-
pleted in Philadelphia—it bears the marks of each within it. Forever ago,
it was not a book at all, but a dissertation, and before that a list of theo-
retical provocateurs. For helping guide and shape its metamorphosis, my
greatest debt goes to my dissertation committee: Wendy Brown, Mark
Bevir, Pheng Cheah, Kiren Chaudhry, and Nelson Maldonado- Torres.
Wendy guided and pressed me to overcome my own limitations and blind
spots, to think harder and to think better, and to prize commitment, all
with a firm generosity that I can only hope to emulate. I arrived a pretender
without much in the way of social graces, and she was kind even when I put
my foot in my mouth. No single individual has seen more of what follows
than she has, and even what she has not seen bears her indelible mark.
Few of us are so lucky.
When I asked Wendy whether my dissertation proj ect was a good idea,
she didn’t hesitate for a second— was I really going to do anything else?
No, I wasn’t. When I deci ded to move to Caracas for no apparent reason,
and then to write a dif er ent book—We Created Chávez—when I should
have been writing my dissertation, no one objected to such apparent lu-
nacy. Kiren even memorably suggested that it would be the perfect place to
get into just enough trou ble; she was more than right, and I am more than
grateful. Mark instilled in me a no- nonsense historical sensibility that has
been consistently valuable. Pheng’s commentary always combined a lucid
rigor with an only occasionally daunting bluntness.
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