This book draws together into one place a part of almost forty years of work in the history of South America by Cristóbal L. Mendoza of Venezuela as a member of the Academy of History, the Academy of Political and Social Sciences, and the Bolivarian Society of Venezuela. Although the author indicates that a theme—the political and social principles that make up the life of Latin America— unifies the many short essays, no such thematic unity exists and only the areas of Venezuela and Colombia are encompassed. Part of the book is pure trivia, being composed of short remarks made at receptions, at the opening and closing of historical congresses, on important anniversaries, and on numerous other occasions. Many of these short essays have been published previously in introductions to books or in the published proceedings of congresses.
Of course, most of the attention of the author has been focused on the heroic figures of the Independence Movement in northern South America, and there is considerable and valuable information on Bolívar, Santander, Miranda, and Jacinto Lara, along with many lesser personages of Venezuela and Colombia. For this reviewer, the best parts of the book are the well-reasoned essays on the controversial entrevista de Guayaquil between San Martín and Bolívar and the letter attributed to San Martín by Lafond de Lurcy.
A very excellent index, not usually found in Latin American publications, adds greatly to the usefulness of the work.
All in all, making allowances for the trivia and the over-adulation of Venezuelans for The Liberator and other important personages of the Independence period, this book can be profitably used by both amateurs and professionals interested in the history of South America.