Selden Rodman, chairman of the New Jersey State Arts Commission and author of works on art, music, and travel, now tries his hand at history. Considering the lack of a rich literature on the Dominican Republic, the result is a readable history, the best on the subject since Sumner Welles’ Naboth’s Vineyard (1928).

Of greatest interest are the last two chapters: “Total Eclipse, 1925-1960,” and “Liberation and Upheaval, 1960-63.” The latter is subtitled “From the Assassination of Trujillo to the Overthrow of Juan Bosch.” A reading of these chapters, following the account of the Dominican Republic’s long and turbulent history, does not inspire much hope for the future. The overthrow of Bosch was in the political tradition venerated by centuries: “It was not an uprising of the people, it came in response to no popular demand, it could not even be said to represent the will of Juan Bosch’s political and business foes. It was the unprincipled act of a small clique of military men, holdovers psychologically and in fact from the thirty-two years of gangster government. Its instant, bloodless, and wholly unopposed ‘success’ attested primarily to the depth of that Hispanic malady of authoritarianism which nothing but a generation of education in democracy and a complete eradication of military autonomy could eliminate.” But how are these to be accomplished?