Opponents of Spanish rule in the Americas in the early nineteenth century may well have possessed powerful political ideas, but these alone were insufficient to destroy a polity that had endured for three centuries. At least, this is the conclusion of Anthony McFarlane's massive (450-plus pages) book, which stresses the importance of military aspects in determining the final outcome of the wars of independence in Spanish America. McFarlane's approach in certain respects is traditional: a narrative of the wars in the main theaters dominates 11 of the book's 15 chapters, and “great men” like José Francisco de San Martín and Simón Bolívar figure prominently. Yet McFarlane achieves much, not least in successfully balancing the broader transatlantic context with the necessary local detail.

The opening section analyzes Spanish America before the wars of independence. This is very informative, including the comparisons that McFarlane...

Article PDF first page preview

Article PDF first page preview
You do not currently have access to this content.