This title, which was first published in 1937, is not a systematic history and does not intend to be. The work consists of a series of episodes in the history of the Strait of Magellan suitable for popular reading. Sr. Braun Menéndez, in the introduction, states that few regions of the world have a history as rich, dramatic, and heroic as the Strait of Magellan; this book was written to illustrate this point.
The book is divided into three sections. The first is an extremely short discussion of the two Spanish colonizing attempts at Rey don Felipe and Nombre de Jesús and the two Chilean colonies, Fuerte Bulnes and Punta Arenas. The second section, entitled “Chronicles of Old Punta Arenas,” contains the stories of six incidents in the history of the Strait-Patagonia area, for example, the explosion of H.M.S. Doterei in the harbor at Punta Arenas, the assassination of Governor Bernardo E. Philippi by Indians, and the discovery of the statue of the Virgin of Tierra del Fuego, later found to be a statue of Queen Victoria. Each briefly related story is interesting, but of little significance. The third section concerns the Abrazo del Estrecho. This section begins with very brief and incomplete biographical sketches of Presidents Julio A. Roca of Argentina and Federico Errázuriz Echaurren of Chile. A narrative of events that occurred during the six day visit of the two presidents to Punta Arenas completes the section. Braun Menéndez does not discuss the historical or political aspects of this meeting that served as a gesture of friendship and peace during a tense period in the boundary dispute.
The author is a member of a prominent family of the Strait area and was reared there. His personal ties with the region not only gave him an interest in the area but also a familiarity with its lore, its history, and the families who helped to make that history. In addition Braun Menéndez has a thorough knowledge of both Argentine and Chilean sources. He has written several books about the area and historians would find some of his other works more useful than this one. Two of these, published in this same series, are Fuerte Bulnes and El Reino de Arauncania y Patagonia. El Motín de los Artilleros could also be used by the historian. The volume contains an index and a short but good bibliography.