This history was written primarily to meet the need of a textbook for Puerto Rican high schools. The author tries to provide a teachable and interesting history, not an “official” one; in so doing he has written a manual that will be useful to many who will never see high school again. Clear and helpful maps and drawings accompany the text. Such sources as Las Casas and Ledrú are occasionally cited. The book opens with more than perfunctory sections on geography and prehistory. Social, cultural, and economic history receive attention. The author handles without rancor or undue partisanship the relations with Spain and then with the United States, as well as the thorny issues of internal politics. At the same time his pride in the Estado Libre Asociado is unconcealed. To the narrative he appends vignettes of thirty eminent Puerto Ricans; several historical and constitutional documents; lists of past and present govermental and ecclesiastical officials; schematic comparisons of the various “organic acts”; census figures; a list of hurricanes; and a well chosen four-page bibliography.

Given the length of the book and its intended market, there is inevitable compression and little interpretation. In a departure from the Puerto Ricans’ famous “insularismo,” the author makes a brave attempt to give his island context in both Latin America and the Caribbean region. He does not go far in this direction, however, and even fails to mention the Caribbean Commission, which, when the book was published, was about to move its headquarters to Puerto Rico and become the Caribbean Organization. Professor Vivas in fact makes numerous slips which show him to be an unreliable guide beyond his island’s shores. He gives “St. Pelée” for Mt. Pelée, “King” for Prince Henry the Navigator, and 1536 for 1551 as the founding date of the University of Mexico; he speaks of the large sugar plantations of modern Haiti, the oil refineries of Bonaire, and the predominantly white population of Jamaica. Still, the book represents a step into the larger world, and one hopes that Professor Vivas’ students will be taking firmer ones. Meanwhile, for non-Puerto Ricans, here is an attractive introduction to a history that is too much neglected.