This work is a compilation of speeches delivered and published by the author in Argentina, Europe, and elsewhere from 1930 to 1940. It is clear that what is generally intended for the ear is not necessarily good for the eye, especially if it is not thoroughly revised. According to the preface, the goal of this book is to convince the reader of the truculence of Great Britain in her economic and political relations with Argentina (pp. 9-13).
The author assumes that the reader is well acquainted with the history of the Rió de la Plata region. Throughout the narrative, for example, “Vedia” is generously quoted, but not until p. 94 are we told that this is the author of a Financial History of Argentina. The same is true of other carelessly cited references (pp. 50, 95, 96, 207). The account of how the British froze land sales in the province of Buenos Aires during 1824 (pp. 91-92) is a contribution from Nicolás de Avellaneda’s Tierras Públicas (p. 101); yet nothing is said about the publication of this work or where to find it. The diplomatic and military intrigues leading to the creation of Uruguay (pp. 117-136) are well told, but the author ignores the sources of his frequent quotations (pp. 127-128). Correspondence between Lord Liverpool and the Duke of Wellington is treated in the same manner (p. 85).
Although marred by disorganization, repetition, unnecessary circumlocution, and Olympian contempt for the footnote, Scalabrini’s work is penetrating in depth and scope. Such revered writers as Ingenieros and Alberdi are properly flagellated because of their insistence on portraying Argentina’s history as a cyclical conflict between porteños and provincianos (p. 62), a cliché readily canonized by American historians. In spite of its shortcomings, Política británica en el Bío de la Plata is the most ambitious attempt that has appeared yet on a subject well known to South American scholars but considerably confused by Latin Americanists in the United States.