It is doubtlessly a truism to argue that all wars are tragic. Wars invariably show society at its worst, with all kinds of national and religious hatreds manifested in the basest slaughter. That said, some wars are worse than others, for, in addition to the immediate brutality of killing, they also inaugurate long histories of rancor and unresolved conflict. As every schoolchild in Lima, La Paz, and Santiago knows, the 1879 – 84 War of the Pacific was one of those wars. It unleashed a seemingly unending series of claims and counterclaims, mutual suspicion, and truculence that no amount of political convergence or economic interest seems able to heal, even at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Not surprisingly, given all this bad feeling, the War of the Pacific has produced an extensive volume of polemical analyses and military hagiographies but few accounts that can be described as reasonable and...

You do not currently have access to this content.