Pamela Murray has provided the field with the biography of Manuela Sáenz that we have needed for many years. As studies of the history of the fledgling United States have long recognized, both women as individuals and gender roles as frames of reference were significant factors first in the break with England and then in the formation of the new nation. We have been aware of this on a theoretical level as regards Latin America as well. We now understand, for instance, the importance of the tertulias (which we might translate as “salons”) hosted by women in the unfolding independence movements, and the significance of the status demanded by early republican mothers. But we have tended to lack specifics, studies grounded in the lives of real people. Flamboyant, half-fantastical figures like Manuela Sáenz and Policarpa Salavarrieta have danced around the edges of what...

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