This is a disappointing publication. The preface by José Figueres, a friend of the author, indicates that Clifford A. Hauberg intended his effort as a text for students. If this is the case, then its form and format prevent it from achieving its aim. There are no maps, no photographs, and a dry-as-dust recital of information, some of it garnered from previously published textbooks.
Hauberg is obviously in sympathy with those who call for social and democratic advances in Latin America. He is also a critic of United States policies there, when these policies have used the “big stick” approach. As he points out, he would like to have more Josephus Daniels representing his country in the Latin American republics. He permits this point of view to emerge from time to time in his recapitulation of twentieth-century developments in Mexico, Central America, and the island republics. But otherwise the reading is dull and gives the impression that the author has not absorbed enough of the historical writings, the newer social scientific investigations, let alone literature and essays. He does draw from Mariano Azuela’s The Underdogs, but otherwise makes the Revolutionary years, with such romantic figures as Zapata and Villa, rather commonplace. And why no mention of Ramos or Paz? Or in the ease of Guatemala, Asturias and particularly El Señor Presidente? Are these not illustrative of a revolutionary and questioning spirit?
Cuba is probably the best chapter in the book, because the author is passionately involved in trying to understand Castro and his régime. His writing comes alive, but once again there seems to be little understanding of the historical processes at work, for barely any attention is paid to the revolutionary tradition in Cuba, and Marti is mentioned (p. 203) quite casually and at the end of a sentence. One may wonder how accurate is the assessment of Castro and the revolution, however, because the sources are limited to materials in English. The chapter on Haiti is useless, even though its revolution had profound consequences. The author apparently regards Haiti as a failure because it is not in the “history as progress” stream. Yet might it not need more than a superficial glance if only because of its difference?
Visión, Hispanic American Report (not Reports as it is so frequently cited in the book), and Current History have their usefulness, but too much reliance upon them does not strengthen a book. Readers ought to have been able to go to a work of this sort with the confidence of benefiting from some thirty years of involvement and interest in Latin America. Unfortunately, they will not be able to do so.