This book stands out among the best in recent years on nineteenth-century Argentina, remarkable for its detail and documentation and for its literary clarity. It narrates the immediate causes and the events of the brief civil war of 1880, which originated as a dispute over the status of Buenos Aires in the national union and over the presidential succession, and resulted in the designation of the city of Buenos Aires as the federal capital. Hilda Sabato’s narrative addresses a ten-month period starting in late 1879, focusing on a conflict pitching the forces of President Nicolás Avellaneda and his successor, General Julio A. Roca, against those of Carlos Tejedor, the governor of Buenos Aires. The conflict climaxed in mid-June 1880 in two battles at Puente Alsina and Los Corrales on the southwest side of Buenos Aires, when the regular army fought the provincial militia hand to hand, leaving some two thousand...

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