Originally published in 1991, this second edition boasts a new index, an updated bibliography, and some minor textual clarifications. (The edition unfortunately is flawed by mismatched citation and footnote numbers between pages 178 and 240.) González Deluca argues that Venezuela’s president Antonio Guzmán Blanco (1870–88) understood that he could enrich himself and promote national economic development at the same time. Demonstrably, he and his cronies achieved more success in the first goal than in the second. A few individuals became wealthy, but the nation experienced economic stagnation and accumulated a crippling national debt. Investment in minerals and river transport provided more opportunity for personal graft and arguably harmed the national economy less than investment in railroads did. Caracas offered a 7 percent guaranteed return on capital invested in the railroad companies in order to attract foreign investment. Most Venezuelan rail lines failed to...

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