This is not a work in history, but rather a series of seven political and philosophical essays severely criticizing conditions in contemporary Colombia. The author is an angry man, who feels that Colombian society is near collapse, because Colombians are too concerned with their individual rights (such as freedom of speech!) to permit the functioning of a state capable of providing for the “common good.” He charges that the Colombian state is weak and irresponsible, because of the individualism of bourgeois-liberalism, but his solution does not rest in caudilloism, marxism, or fascism. What Colombians need to do, he says, is to scrap completely the institutions of their state (most of which are borrowed and foreign to the environment anyway) and to change radically their thinking and attitudes, so that a “Strong State” may be created, which, without destroying personal dignity, will guarantee to all education, social security benefits, recreational facilities, and even esthetic beauty. Just how this benevolent Leviathan is to be created with sufficient guarantees against the “Strong Man” is not revealed, but Sr. Laserna, himself, says the aircraft designer is not expected to construct or fly the plane.

While the above describes the central theme of the book, a few of the essays stray from the main discussion, so that the work seems disjointed and disorganized. In fact, one essay indulges in some of the extreme partisanship that in another essay the author says he deplores in Colombian life. This sort of contradiction or lack of continuity seems to be a common fault of works that are collections of essays or talks given at different times in different places.

For anyone concerned about conditions in Colombia these essays will prove interesting, although the conclusions may be seriously questioned. Certainly one of the things that Sr. Laserna accomplishes is to demonstrate the obsolescence of words as “Conservative” and “Liberal,” particularly when applied to the gamut of political, economic, social, and cultural goals.