Rodrigo Fuenzalida’s second edition is an abbreviated version of an early biography. Arturo Prat, a naval officer who lost his life in the War of the Pacific, has evolved into one of Chile’s preeminent heroes. Although he lost the battle of Iquique, as well as his ship, he nonetheless represented a standard of personal and professional excellence which made him a natural object for public admiration. The values he epitomized, particularly self-sacrifice, outlasted his wartime popularity, making him a civilian as well as military hero.
This study includes material gleaned from the Archivo Nacional de Chile as well as from private papers belonging to the Prat family. Historians will be particularly interested by some of the letters describing Argentina during the diplomatic crisis of the late 1870s. The various photographs also enhance the quality of this work.
Fuenzalida’s scholarship is strongest when describing Prat’s early life. The section on the War of the Pacific is unimaginative, glossing over the rather important differences which divided Prat and Admiral Wilhams. Still, this study is superior to anything published recently. Scholars could more profitably, however, consult the unabridged version which surpasses the earlier works of Rosales and Vicuña Mackenna.