This book is a collection of four articles—three prize-winners from a contest on the theme of “Sarmiento and public education” held in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of the “Schoolmaster President,” and one on his interest in certain non-official agencies of public instruction. In the first Guillermo Sanhueza Arriagada comments on the multiple facets of Sarmiento’s genius and recalls his strangely modern emphasis upon the general capacity of a nation’s inhabitants as the index to success in production and his emphasis upon the economic, political, and social importance of the public school in the achievement of national unity. Virgilio Cutinella bases his article upon a series of seven questions which Sarmiento submitted in 1842 for the consideration of Chilean government officials in their formulation of an educational program for youth and the general “civilization” of society. Emilio Carilla’s “Sarmiento and Horace Mann” notes definite traces of the ideas of the American educator in many of Sarmiento’s works and the latter’s adaptation of those ideas to the realities of the Argentine milieu. The final article, by the late Francisco Romero, describes Sarmiento’s promotion of many forms of educational and cultural activity but centers upon the 1870 law in which culminated his efforts for the establishment of public libraries. Of interest, too, are the recollections of Sarmiento’s insistence upon the need for books and his advocacy of a common market for their economic production and the promotion of the ideal of Hispanic American unity.
In all four of these articles—as in so much that is written about Sarmiento—perhaps the greatest value consists of the constant reminder of the man’s genius and an ever-awakening awareness of how far he was in advance of his times, and often of our own.