It is rare to find an Argentine political figure engaged in extensive self-criticism but such is the case in this thought-provoking volume devoted to Argentine politics since 1930. Its author, now a printer by trade, was for many years a militant in the Argentine Communist Party and a member of its central committee. Expelled in 1953 for advocating unity with the Peronists, he withdrew from all political activity and devoted himself to studying the national scene and re-examining his basic position. The result is this volume directed to the younger generation and particularly to Argentine workers with whose interests the author identifies himself.

The book itself is a combination historical analysis and political tract, with occasional autobiographical references. In reviewing (rather than reconstructing) the events of the past thirty years, Real sees basic continuities at work and a repetitive pattern in the overthrows of Yrigoyen, Perón, and Frondizi. Each of these men, regardless of differences, was the leader of a movement with popular and nationalist roots; each in turn was opposed by a league of rightist and leftist groups and in each case the movement fell, yielding power to what the author calls the antinational oligarchy.

Real regards the popular nationalist movement as a permanent force in Argentine polities regardless of the external forms it has taken, yrigoyenismo, peronismo, frondicismo. Heterogeneous in social composition and vague in specific program, this movement has nevertheless represented the true interests of the workers, he argues, because those interests lie in the growth of a balanced national economy based on the development of power resources and heavy industry as well as agriculture. That the Argentine workers failed to appreciate this and through their passivity contributed to the ultimate collapse of Yrigoyen, Perón, and Frondizi is part of the perplexing reality of these years.

Real’s approach involves him in a detailed analysis of Argentine Communist Party positions taken at critical junctures over the past thirty years. It is here, perhaps, that the book has its greatest value, for the author quotes effectively from Party documents and does not hesitate to criticize the views he himself once held. Readers will find considerable interest in his discussion of the role of the military, the Catholic Church, foreign capital, and agrarian reform. His position on each of these issues is a measure of the ideological distance he has traveled since leaving the Party. While Real’s purpose in writing this book is in part polemical, its tone is mild and its appeal is to reason. As a reinterpretation of a troubled period of Argentine history, it deserves careful reading.