Many books of readings have little or no focus. It is to the credit of Professor Richard B. Gray, however, that by the arrangement of a variety of articles, excerpts from reports, etc., he has been able to assess developments affecting United States-Latin American relations in the 1960s and from these and recent trends to predict what might happen in the 1970s. This ingenious organization of materials allows him to get at the dynamics of change and to isolate problem areas where conflicting interpretations prevail. The first part of the book accomplishes this by covering competing ideologies for change, the Alliance for Progress, the forces affecting the transformation of the Organization of American States, and the common markets of the hemisphere. The second part then attempts to concentrate upon security and economic problems of the 1970s.
For each topic the editor has selected from four to seven items, which would at first glance appear to provide enough depth. The results, however, are mixed. The coverage of the OAS, common markets, and security problems is adequate. The articles on competing ideologies, however, are too broad, covering Latin American social and economic problems, nationalism, and the present state of conditions in Cuba. Specific articles to describe the Chilean, Peruvian, and Brazilian attempts at change, as well as the trend from rural to urban guerrilla movements, could have stressed the variety of experimentation in the hemisphere. The articles on the Alliance for Progress are perhaps the most indicative of some of the problems of over generalization. Selections here are authored by prominent officials such as Lyndon Johnson, Eduardo Frei, and Galo Plaza, and are almost completely from sources such as Foreign Affairs and the Department of State Bulletin. Thus, we get the official viewpoint and the overall analysis but lack any concrete operationalized research on specific aspects of the Alliance, which could be a meaningful learning experience for students.
In some ways it may be too early in the 1970s to assess the effects of changes. The selections on the OAS, for example, are excellent in pointing out why it has changed, but we still do not know whether the new OAS Protocol will work, since it has not been tested. Similarly, there are many selections on the new policies of President Richard Nixon, but it is still too early to judge the exact meaning and implications of these with any real perspicacity.