This little volume is number six in the series Comentarios del Perú and brings together in one place the impressions that Peru made on five travelers during the first few decades of Peruvian independence. The travelers were: Samuel Haigh, an Englishman who visited Peru from 1825 to 1827, very soon after independence was achieved; two Swedes, Carl August Gosselman, who observed and commented on the Peru-Bolivian Confederation in 1837, and C. Skogman, who traveled through Peru in 1852; one exiled Chilean, José Victorino Lastarria, who wrote of his impressions in 1850; and one North American, George W. Carleton, who made amusing sketches of the people of Lima in 1866. All of these, except possibly Lastarria, were interested in the possibilities of trade between their home countries and Peru, but they set down in detail their observations on the society, customs, politics, and social and economic conditions, plus their personal experiences, as they became acquainted with the fortunes of travel by land and sea.
The book contains a brief introduction by the distinguished compiler, Alberto Tauro, wherein he gives some background information on each traveler. The compilation is useful for the general reader who wishes to get a bird’s-eye view of Peru as seen through the eyes of foreigners, educated and informed, during the period indicated. However, the professional Latin Americanist would want to consult the original and unabridged versions: Samuel Haigh, Voyage to Peru (1829) and his more extensive Sketches of Buenos Aires, Chile, and Peru (1831); the many editions of Carl Gosselman’s accounts of his travels; C. Skogman, Viaje de la fragata “Eugenia” 1851-1853, which was translated from the Swedish by Kjell Heinrich and published in Buenos Aires in 1942; George W. Carleton, Our Artist in Peru (1866); and José Victorino Lastarria, Miscelánea histórica y literaria (1868).
Minor criticisms would include the absence of an index and the paucity of explanatory notes by the compiler. Also, one wishes that the compiler had proofread the introduction more carefully. For example, on page 9 Carleton’s name is given as Calverton and the date of publication is 100 years off.