The political and social transformations which took place in Uruguay in the second half of the nineteenth century resulted from a long process. Aided by supporting documents, Arocena Olivera examines the intimate network of that process; its complex plotting; the multiple political, cultural, and sociological factors involved in its conception and development; and, above all, its interrelation with the economic and demographic vicissitudes of Uruguayan society.

This book covers the period from the Quebracho Revolution—which, though defeated on the battlefield in March 1886, marked the end of military authoritarianism and thus made way for antimilitary constitutionalism—to José Batlle’s first inauguration in 1903, a starting point of modern Uruguay. The author explains the main events and underlying developments of those years, using interdisciplinary methodology and drawing on a wide range of data, conversations, and socioeconomic references.

The Quebracho Revolution, promoted by citizens of various political hues but of the same homogeneous social and cultural extraction, was intended to end Máximo Santos’s dictatorship. In it could be seen again the dichotomy between “doctors” and “caudillos” arising in both Colorado and Blanco parties. In his effort to reconstruct a crucial period of Uruguayan life, the author has avoided the usual biographical emphasis, and, instead, undertakes a study of the country’s ruling class. He analyzes this class’s psychology, its ideological and ethical features, and its behavior and liaisons. The levita, after which the book is entitled, was the everyday suit worn by that class until dandies discovered other fashions in the ’80s. El desgaste de las levitas is a historical study offering an alluring, original, and dynamic approach.