As the author explains in his clear, semiautobiographical preface, this monograph is not based upon archival research; rather, its aim is to synthesize a wide range of published material within a conceptual framework designed to provide a comparative/historical analysis of colonial and postcolonial trends across no less than 15 countries in mainland Spanish America. The purpose of the exercise is to attempt to discover the extent to which the colonial past was important in determining the differing levels of prosperity and well-being that can be seen in Spanish America in the postcolonial and contemporary eras. The exclusion of Brazil from the exercise may be legitimate, not least in terms of manageability, although this does complicate somewhat the hypothesis (p. 5) that the most dynamic economies in the region by the late nineteenth century were to be found in the countries (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Venezuela) that had rid themselves of...

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