For the last two decades, Latin America has presented us with the opportunity to delve into the realities, and not just the conceptual or utopian fantasies, of the Left in power. As is to be expected from a Latin American Perspectives publication, this collection seeks to challenge or even reverse the mainstream assessment that the Latin American Left can be divided into the “good Left”—the institutionalized, neoliberal cases not much discussed here, such as Chile and Brazil—and the “bad Left”—the radical experiments that are the subject of this volume.

Historians will be happy to know that this collection is not unmoored from twentieth-century experiences; contributors offer comparisons with past social democratic and communist regimes, although principally to illuminate contrasts. In the introduction and general analysis of part 1, Steve Ellner, Roger Burbach, Diana Raby, and Marcel Nelson characterize the differences, finding this...

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