I picked up Daniel James’s Doña María’s Story not long after reading Robert Holden’s warning that we need to “reconsider ‘the political’ in the writing of history.” Holden relies on two senses of political, the first synonymous with big political processes, ideologies, and actors—what he suggests should be the proper focus of political history—and the second, referring to “politically committed history” or a history that is not “objective” (“The Perversion and Redemption of Latin American Political History,” Journal of the Historical Society 3: 25–44). Doña María’s Story—which takes place over a half-century before today’s dismantling of Peronista state protections and Argentina’s neo-liberal debacle—implicitly takes up both parts of Holden’s call. It explores the power of mid-twentieth-century working-class politics and practice in Argentina by examining the life story of labor activist María Roldán. James finds in oral history an invaluable tool for...

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