I still have that copy. In it, my friend had inscribed: "I loved this book so much, I don't really want to part with it. Still, I don't want to hang onto it a second longer when you've not yet read it."
I am devoted to this book, to the first Galeano I read. A few months ago, I wanted to give a graduating senior a present; we decided on books that changed us. I chose The Book of Embraces. Composed of short vignettes & illustrated magnificently and magically, the book is filled with ways of approaching the world that I seem to have internalized -- revisiting it, it came as a surprise that some of my most deeply held beliefs about stories, ideas, history and memory reflect Galeano and his insistence on the power of reclaiming the past from all kinds of things --- simplification, ossification, stark categories and clear boundaries, erasure, amnesia.
Galeano is best known for his trilogy that chronicles the history of Latin America, Memory of Fire. I've been teaching the first book of the series, Genesis, in my world history classes. In a Guardian interview about his most recent book, Children of the Days, Galeano resists historical amnesia that belittles human experience and erases the complexities of our lives, an amnesia perpetrated by powerful interests.
If you haven't read Galeano, do yourself a favor and go find something he's written.