As Stefan Rinke astutely notes, during the opening decades of the twentieth century there emerged and developed in Chile a “cultura de masas," as many thousands of santiaguinos increasingly left behind “lo tradicional"—materially, culturally, and ideologically—to engage in (if somewhat tenuously) modernity’s varied and compelling milieu. His book, which focuses on the period from the centennial celebrations of 1910 through the 1927-31 dictatorship of Carlos Ibáñez del Campo, is a satisfying and tightly woven synthesis that addresses culture, politics, and nationalism in a modernizing society gripped by the so-called social question.

Rinke’s intent is to describe the period’s new urban reality as it was produced, reproduced, and reflected in such areas as architecture, music, fiction and nonfiction literature, gender relations, party politics, and government policy making. To wit, the book is divided into three parts—distinct but interrelated—that expose the period’s complexity and hybridism: the emergence of mass culture, the...

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