This study begins with all-too-obvious premises: that war shreds to pieces the emotional and material fabric of families and that the consequences take generations to mend. Less obvious are the mechanisms by which incipient Spanish American nations undertook the processes of repair, and it is here that Sarah C. Chambers's book provides its special contribution, in its meticulous treatment of how Chilean political elites addressed the wreckage of war from independence to the mid-nineteenth century.

Military struggles for independence in Spanish America often prolonged the winner/loser binary through subsequent periods of civil war that deepened enmities. Liberals and conservatives, federalists and centralists, Catholics and anticlericals all fought. Long after battles were settled, the vilification of adversaries continued through tropes feral in content and persistent in application. By contrast, Chile is presented as having taken the path of reconciliation. The discursive theme that...

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