The present volume is an effort by the authors to reduce their two-volume work, An Archeological Chronology of Venezuela, published in 1961 by the Pan American Union, to “simpler form for the benefit of the nonspecialist and layman interested in Venezuelan archeology” (p. vii).
Unfortunately, the goal is not met. The volume is difficult to read, terminology is highly technical, and periods (Paleo-Indian, Meso-Indian and Neo-Indian) are described in terms of series, styles, and complexes of stone artifacts and pottery that can interest only the specialist. A reader gets the impression that the pre-Spanish inhabitants of Venezuela spent their full time inventing local pottery styles without contact with or influence from the rest of South America, the Caribbean islands, or Central America. A popular book should create a dynamic picture of the way of life during each epoch and its adaptation to a variety of geographic situations that range from savanna to mountains to coast to tropical forest and to the network of rivers and tributaries. Compared to recent popular books on pre-Columbian Mexico and Peru by specialists, the historian will find Bouse and Cruxent very uninteresting reading.
As a reference work it must be used with caution. There are some bad errors resulting from contradiction between C-14 dates in the text as compared to listing in the Appendix table, assumptions made by the authors which later they state as if fact to argue proof of their point of view, and an almost total lack of recognition that the artificial modern political boundary of Venezuela has no bearing on aboriginal cultures of the past.
The two volume version published by the Pan American Union in both English and Spanish is equally readable, much better illustrated, and far more economically priced.