William Summerhill's Inglorious Revolution: Political Institutions, Sovereign Debt, and Financial Underdevelopment in Imperial Brazil is a meticulously researched examination of the development of Brazil's financial institutions during the imperial period (1822–89). Summerhill explains why Brazil, already unusual for its constitutional monarchy among the hemisphere's republican governments, was also distinguished by the state's solid reputation of sovereign creditworthiness in foreign capital markets. While Spanish American governments—and some US states—defaulted on loans financed in London, Brazil reliably serviced its debt, enabling the state to borrow from foreign and domestic markets at favorable rates for the entirety of the imperial period. Here Summerhill challenges long-standing scholarship that casts the empire as a period of financial profligacy that set Brazil on the path to default after the establishment of a republican government in 1889 (p. 7). Summerhill also seeks to explain why the Brazilian government “could...

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