Despite the title, The Contemporary History of Latin America
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.
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