This volume of UNESCO’s Historia general de América Latina is devoted to the eighteenth century, and most of its chapters deal with the impact of the reforms implemented by the Spanish and Portuguese crowns in their colonies. Two studies provide the European context: a very fine overview by Josep Fontana and José María Delgado on Spain and a disorganized essay by Eugenio dos Santos on Portugal. This compilation is not unlike many others, comprised of some excellent contributions and a few deplorable ones. The overall result is positive, although it does not provide the steady reading one would expect from a “general history.” Its 26 chapters are better described as independent articles on many topics, from politics and demography to economy, society, and culture.

The authors rank among the top specialists in Latin American history, and they offer well-informed, updated, and in certain...

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