Carlos Rama does not suggest that Christopher Columbus discovered labor unions in the Americas. If the author begins his chronology and bibliography of the labor movement of Latin America with the year 1492, it is partly because he gives the term labor movement (Arbeiterbewegung) a much wider interpretation than most labor historians in this country. For him it encompasses much more than the structure, growth, and activities of organized wage earners. He literally includes the efforts of any group of working people who have attempted in the past to change their social, economic, or political status. The slight surprise in the title of the book is also due to the abbreviated label which the German translators gave to the original French edition of this work (1959). Had they retained its designation Labor and Socialist Movements, the title might have been more descriptive of the contents.
The present volume, however, is more than a simple translation into German. With the aid of the staff and the facilities of the Center for Social Research at the University of Münster, Germany, many errors were eliminated which appeared in the original French edition. Moreover, the chronological listing of historic events was expanded to 1966 in the German version. A similar updating of the bibliography is still in progress and will be published later as a special supplement. Nevertheless, the bibliography sections now available do contain a number of publications since 1936. For instance, some of the recent contributions of Robert J. Alexander, the eminent North American observer of Latin American labor relations, are mentioned, as well as references on the Cuban Revolution of Fidel Castro.
Despite the incomplete treatment of bibliography since 1936, the book is a gold mine of references on Latin American political movements and labor history. Those seeking more complete information on Latin American labor may want to use this paperback side by side with another 1967 publication, a country-by-country treatment in English—Morris and Córdova, Bibliography of Industrial Relations in Latin America (Cornell University).