The Estudios históricos of Manuel Valladares Rubio (1869-1927), known better in his own day by the pseudonym “El Doctor Fences Rédish,” cover a wide range of subjects and periods. Although some of these writings appeared during the author’s lifetime in various Mexican and Central American newspapers and journals, the greatest part of them were unpublished. Well-known in Guatemala as a politician, diplomat, poet, and literary figure, the present volume justifies Valladares as a historian as well. Although occasional errors and misstatements are to be found and a strong political bias becomes evident in his treatment of events since 1871, these studies contribute significantly to the available literature on the history of Central America since 1808 and to the literary history of colonial New Spain.
Biographical studies of José Matías Delgado and Manuel José de Arce, published originally in San Salvador in 1911, and “Guatemala en las Cortes de Cadiz,” in which special attention is paid to the roles played by José María Peinado and Antonio Larrazábal, comprise about half the volume. These studies reflect considerable insight into the period from 1808 to 1830. While the author’s biographical sketches are particularly enlightening, he placed little importance on institutions such as the Consulado de Comercio and the Sociedad Económica and, in general, failed to recognize fully the economic issues affecting the emerging political factions in Central America. On the other hand, his treatment of the Guatemalan Ayuntamiento contains much information not generally available in works of this sort.
In dealing with figures nearer his own time Valladares was less dispassionate, especially in his bitter but revealing condemnation of the regime of Manuel Estrada Cabrera, which he called “the cruelest dictatorship in the history of America.” Briefer essays discuss Dr. Esteban Corti, Manuel and Andrés de Llano, Domingo Antonio de Lara, Dr. Mariano Gálvez, and Justo Rufino Barrios. The remainder of the volume contains miscellaneous essays, notes, letters, and documents, several of which deal with poetry and other literature of colonial New Spain.