The Peruvian “experiment” with a self-proclaimed revolutionary military government has been the focus of enormous scholarly interest, spawning numerous studies and lively debate. Cynthia McClintock’s study of the peasant agricultural cooperatives is an excellent addition to the field. McClintock contributes significantly to our understanding of the Velasco government, the agrarian reform, and adds as well to our appreciation of the strengths and liabilities of self-management enterprises in Third World countries.

McClintock uses the experience of the cooperatives to explore three central questions. (1) How does the history of the cooperatives help us understand the failures of the Peruvian experiment, and, more specifically, of the Velasco regime? (2) What do the agrarian cooperatives tell us about attitudinal change among the peasantry? (3) What do the Peruvian cooperatives add to our understanding of the impact of self-management enterprises? McClintock’s assessment of the Velasco regime, and her synthesis of the various interpretations of the regime, are especially well done. Her own account of the regime is balanced and convincing; she is sensitive to the complexity of what she examines and offers a sophisticated account of the regime’s behavior.

McClintock’s book combines sensitive quantitative analysis with firsthand experience. The author uses her own observational data to spell out the complexity that numbers so often mask. The reader comes away from this study with a sense of what the cooperative experience was like for the peasants.

McClintock’s analysis of the political responses of the peasantry seems to me unnecessarily wedded to the prevailing categories in the scholarly debate, whereas her own data suggest a rather new interpretation. Her argument for the growth of “group egosim” is convincing; however, the evidence for a decline in clientelistic attitudes seems less so. Rather one might suggest that her data demonstrate that with the demise of the old patrons, the range of possible clientelistic relationships broadened dramatically and the peasantry responded to this opportunity. Such an interpretation leads to a rather different view of political integration in current Peruvian politics.

McClintock offers considerable insight into the complexity that characterized the Peruvian countryside and the conflicts that limited the effectiveness of the agrarian reform. Her discussion of the government’s failure to reconcile the demands of these various sectors, or to create an organization capable of doing so, is excellent, as are the chapters on the interaction between government agencies and peasants resisting those initiatives.