Although several admirable and scholarly accounts of the histories of the separate River Plate republics are available, an up-to-date appraisal of the evolution of the area as a whole has until recently been lacking. This deficiency has now been remedied by publication of Life World Library’s latest issue in its Latin American Series, The River Plate Republics. Of immediate value to both layman and scholar alike, this excellently prepared, concise survey represents exactly the type of current reference necessary for a knowledge of the swift tides of change throughout modern Latin America. Perhaps its most distinctive feature is the unusual and well-organized combination of thoughtful interpretative text and judicious selection of photographs, both in color and in black and white.
Mr. Ferguson, since 1948 Latin American correspondent for the London weekly, The Observer, has handled the delicate task of summarizing the oft-confused and knotty histories of Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay in surprisingly objective fashion. He describes clearly and impartially the development of the three republics since the colonial era to the present and has approached such sensitive episodes as the Rosas and Perón eras and the Paraguayan War of the 1860s with remarkable clarity and perception.
Omissions are few—the Battle of Pavón and its impact upon Argentine unity, the role of José Marmol’s Amalia in River Plate literary development, and the territorial changes which occurred as a result of the Paraguayan War. Such technical matters, however, are more than balanced by the inclusion of uniquely useful “box” summary data as, for example, “A River Plate Glossary,” and “The Military Attitude.” The text is likewise enhanced by three appendices covering Historical Data, Suggested Further Readings, and Famous River Plate Cultural Figures and their Principal Works. The numerous and appropriately chosen photographs from Life’s files, of course, speak volumes for themselves.
The River Plate Republics may not meet all requirements for a comprehensive text. However, its attractive format, its concise and informative text, and the wealth of its illustrations, combine to make it a valuable reference.