As the title suggests, this addition to the large body of writing about Eloy Alfaro purports to present the reader with a more intimate “inside” biography of the great Liberal president. Julio C. Troncoso, perhaps better known as “Julio Pico,” is a journalist with a rare flair for the titillating, the dramatic, and the tragic—see, for example, his account of the gruesome murder of Alfaro near the end of the book. The resulting account is flamboyant and readable, and it adds many small details to the lore of Alfaro.

Although the preface and the foreword by the venerable Isaac J. Barrera lead us to expect an impartial account of Alfaro’s life and work, much of the book itself is adulatory in tone and polemical in the extreme. Some of the most pleasant passages have little to do with the Liberal caudillo. Chapters 13 and 14, for example, are skillful evocations of old Quito, its legends and colonial past, its churches and famous schools of painting. The construction of the Guayaquil-Quito railroad and the arrival of the first locomotive in the capital are also charmingly recounted in Chapter 19.

This then is a work which adds little of real substance to our store of knowledge, and which makes few attempts at impartiality, in spite of good intentions. But some of it makes entertaining reading. There is an interesting appendix of appropriate documents and a very brief bibliography.