The small but presentable books on Latin American countries written under the sponsorship of the Royal Institute of International Affairs are unquestionably useful. Naturally some are better than others and the reviews in the HAHR are of varied enthusiasm. For example, the Mexico tome by Cline has sparked a powerful review by Simpson (HAHR, May, 1963). The Cline book and the Simpson review are exciting. I am afraid that the Peru tome cannot excite the same response. The author is a Lecturer in the English Department at the University of the West Indies. From 1950 to 1956 Dr. Owens taught in Lima at Markham College and St. Paul’s College.
One can find only a minor number of factual errors, which is to the credit of the author. Some interpretations are controversial and APRA enthusiasts might not like the statement, “The old role of APRA … has been taken over by a new movement, called Accion Popular and led by Fernando Belaunde Terry….” The historical part is far too sketchy, which leads to dangerous oversimplification. One wonders if a good Latin American history textbook is not a better source for acquaintance. As in many of the other volumes the economic part—development, finance, production, trade, investment, communications—is heavy with statistics. We all know the shortcomings of statistics when dealing with Latin America. Furthermore, the book will soon be out of date—indeed it is already. For myself, I think that the book should have had a chapter dealing with literature, art, or culture in general. For example, there is not a word about Ricardo Palma, García Calderón, Ciro Alegría, and many others. The style is monotonous—the whole book is dull. But I repeat, the book fulfills a useful purpose. Perfection is impossible in this kind of book but it could have been better—some other books in this series are.