This important historical study contributes to rescuing Latin America from the margins to which the dominant historiography on modern democracy relegated it, placing the region at the center of the development of political modernity worldwide. Based on the claim that nowhere else in the world was democratic republicanism embraced in such a wide manner during the mid-nineteenth century, Sanders establishes that the New World was truly at the vanguard of modern political culture at the time. He focuses, in particular, on an intriguing aspect of political culture—namely, the emergence of what he terms “American republican modernity” (4 and introd.), exploring its rise, relative significance, and eventual collapse late in the century.

The book, which for lack of a better word could be considered a “connective” rather than comparative history, mainly focuses on Colombia and Mexico, the two Spanish American regions where in...

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