This is a book of very uneven quality. The authors, two anthropologists, excel when relating the social history of the country to which they have devoted their distinguished careers. Seldom has the manland relationship in Peru been so succinctly and lucidly treated. Dobyns and Doughty admirably elucidate the lifestyles, economies, and pioneering agricultural achievements of Indian civilizations. Spaniards are credited with organizing a complex conquest culture, which resulted not from the mere transposition of Iberian mores but from the melding of two distinct cultures. This book contains the most explicit report in English on the Toledan reforms and their durable, but unforeseen and detrimental, effects on the Indians. Similarly, the normally shrouded beneficencia system, both a purveyor of social services and a participant in the ruthless exploitation of Indian labor on many vast estates, receives needed scrutiny.

However, Dobyns and Doughty’s work is marred by oversights and dubious interpretations of the political past. For example, José de San Martín allegedly switched from his monarchist scheme to “a democratic revolutionary French model” and decided to “recruit” Simón Bolívar for Peruvian liberation (p. 143). Peruvians are reported to have eliminated “violence from their political system” by about 1890 (p. 156). This will surprise those who recall the civil war of 1895, the año terrible of 1932, the presidential assassination of 1933, and the uprisings of the mid-1960s. Peru’s two longest ruling executives, Ramón Castilla and Augusto Leguía, are given short shrift. Castilla, who initiated important administrative advances, is lumped together with other less noteworthy early Caudillos. Roots of Peru’s post-1930 troubles lie in Leguía’s oncenio. However, Leguía’s suppressions of a viable party system, experienced civilian political leadership, and civil liberties, and his accelerated delivery of Peruvian resources to American investors are not discussed. Many other similar errors might be easily cited.

Likewise, frequent factual errors blemish this work, the most glaring being the statement that in 1932 APRA killed “5,000 officers and men of the Trujillo garrison who had surrendered” (p. 232). According to reputable Peruvian sources, fewer than fifty prisoners were killed.

Lastly, the bibliography is not consistently useful. Citing not a single article or journal, the listing also misses major primary sources. Only one primary source from the nineteenth century is included. None of Manuel González-Prada’s works is mentioned; nor do the supremely informative autobiographies of Víctor Andrés Belaúnde and Luis Alberto Sánchez appear.