Many of the books being currently produced in the United States about Latin America are obviously written by authors who read five books and write a sixth, who, either consciously or subconsciously, parrot the premises underlying policies laid down in Washington, and who therefore look at Latin America through the eyes of a North American complacent about the success of his own country and gauging Latin American problems in terms of this measuring stick of success. Under the circumstances they find it difficult to avoid a patronizing attitude toward Latin Americans.
This book is no exception. It is a neat but routine summary of the materials of Latin American history readily available in a dozen other books, undistinguished in style and short on interpretation. As is perhaps inevitable in such a summary covering the history of a continent and a half over a period of four centuries it is marred by many substantial oversimplifications. The author artfully steers his analysis between conflicting viewpoints, thus detracting from the vigor of presentation and producing an ideologically sterile history. “Latin America in transition” is a phrase that flows seemingly endlessly from the pens of modern writers on Latin America, and as they seem bewildered to discover that history is a record of change they stand awed before the prospect of its effects on Latin America.
This volume will do little to give glamour or substance to the history of Latin America or to show how it can be redeemed as a subject of study in college and university classrooms.