The Contemporary History of Latin America

Tulio Halperín Donghi

translated from the Spanish by John Charles Chasteen
Duke University Press 1993
A book review by Danny Yee © 1997
Despite the title, The Contemporary History of Latin America begins in the early nineteenth century and more than half of it is devoted to the period before 1930. The focus is almost exclusively on economic and political history, and then quite narrowly on formal politics and macroeconomics. Each chapter covers a discrete time period (1825 to 1850 or 1930 to 1945, for example), beginning with an overview of regional themes and going on to a country by country traversal. This disrupts any feeling of narrative flow, with parties, leaders, and policies disappearing only to reappear forty or fifty pages on. The result is, however, as readable as could be expected given this and the dryness of the material.

The translator's introduction suggests that information has been added to this edition for those without a background knowledge of Latin America, but such readers may still find themselves lost in places. I found the absence of a map annoying (perhaps because I read the work while travelling and without access to reference books) and would also have appreciated a chronology. The Contemporary History of Latin America is too dry and narrowly focused for a popular general history, but it has an obvious audience among students of history and economics.

July 1997

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%T The Contemporary History of Latin America
%A Halperín Donghi, Tulio
%M Spanish
%F Chasteen, John Charles
%I Duke University Press
%D 1993 [1988]
%O paperback, third edition, index
%G ISBN 082231374X
%P xiv,426pp