This volume is another in the Historians of America Series published by the Comisión de Historia of the Instituto Panamericano de Geografía e Historia. It is a reprint originally written in 1931 under commission of the University Council of the University of Chile. The work has been extensively expanded and revised using documents from the papers of Diego Barros Arana, some of which were previously unavailable.

Ricardo Donoso characterizes Barros Arana and his two colleagues, Miguel Luis Amunátegui and Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna, as nineteenth-century American historians who viewed the colonial regime as a period of darkness and vassalage caused by vicious institutions, the enslaving influence of the Church, evil habits, and the indolence of the government and people. The independence movement emerges as almost a renaissance in the history of Western culture, as a spiritual regeneration, and as a reaction against three centuries of servitude and oppression. Except for Barros Arana’s major work, Historia General de Chile, which is discussed in one chapter, Donoso does little more than mention his individual writings. Donoso uses an overall chronological outline to describe various aspects of Barros Arana’s career. Chapters are devoted to his activities as a political and historical author, as educator, university dean, and rector, and as a diplomat and expert in the boundary dispute with Argentina. In each area Donoso has nothing but the highest praise for his subject, although he does not always agree with him as a historian. This book explains why the Sociedad Chilena de Historia y Geografía chose Donoso in 1946 with Raúl Silva Castro to write a defense of Barros Arana against the attacks of Francisco Antonio Encina.

An appendix of documents is included, some of them not previously published. All of these documents concern the boundary question with Argentina, but add no new or significant information. Donoso also quotes very extensively from documents in the text and in footnotes, sometimes unnecessarily. He includes a bibliography of all writings by Barros Arana listed by year of publication and also a bibliography of works on Barros Arana, which is out of date and almost exclusively Chilean.