Lack of an appealing, well-written and up-to-date survey of the main historical political, economic, and sociological currents in Bolivia’s slow evolution toward a unified national identity has for some time represented a defect in available source accounts of Latin America. This void is now competently and provocatively filled by Miss Anstee’s thorough portrait. Based upon her recent six-year duty tour as a UN Development Program official, her assessment of Bolivia’s continuing struggle to overcome the effects of divisive geographic contrasts and stubborn heritages of the past merits highest praise for its succinct, often humorous and continuingly informative content.
In tracing her course through Bolivia’s varied complexities, the author successfully synthesizes the early beliefs of Alcides Argüedas with those of laterday scholars such as Harold Osborne and Charles Arnade. The obviously knowledgeable resulting product is enhanced by a smooth style recalling the works of earlier feminine Latin Americanists Erna Fergusson, Betty de sherbinin and Mary Wilhelmine Williams. All facets of Bolivia’s evolution are carefully explored in a fast-moving, well-illustrated account which happily includes a generous mixture of personal anecdotes, both hair-raising and incredible, which will warm the hearts of all veterans of Latin American field research. Miss Anstee’s work may indeed be evaluated as a first rate primary source to supplement formal academic studies of the Andean Indian republics.