By his own admission, the author did not intend to write a detailed monograph on the War of the Pacific. On the contrary, he indicated that he would rely upon secondary sources to provide the reader a comprehensive, English-language study of this conflict in which Chile fought Peru and Bolivia from 1879 to 1884. In one sense, Farcau has achieved his purpose: he did manage to compress four years of mayhem into less than 200 pages of text plus a bibliography. But the author’s brevity, however commendable, cannot compensate for the book’s lack of insight.

A quick glimpse at the footnotes indicates that the author has based his work essentially on four sources: for the Chilean side, Diego Barros Arana’s and Gonzalo Bulnes’ three volume study; Mariano Paz Soldán for Peru and Roberto Querejazu for Bolivia. Two of these four works, while not...

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