Philippe Schmitter’s compilation of five articles—four were presented at a 1972 conference on Latin American militaries—is a reaction to past and existing models of military rule. In this appeal for refinement of existing hypotheses and advancement of fresh approaches, he has encouraged eclecticism in theory and methodology. Consequently, linkage among the papers is relatively limited.

Schmitter’s title is misleading, since only two articles directly address military rule. Alain Rouquie’s paper—a protracted version appeared in 1971—identifies a left-wing trend in military interventions precipitated by the impact of external factors on changing domestic circumstances. Past case study and quantification approaches are then critically dissected by Jerry Weaver, who contrasts presumably ideologically antithetic military regimes’ policy outputs and social consequences and portrays military interveners serving similar clients. Schmitter’s and Geoffrey Kemp’s contributions weigh other military topics. The former inductively evaluates the effects of several variables on levels of domestic military spending with resource availability having the greatest impact. Kemp articulates concern that arms control is dangerously underresearched in Latin America, and he formulates a thesis to determine the nexus for arms control negotiations focusing on geostrategic considerations and force capabilities. James Kurth’s concluding article touches indirectly upon the military, while delving into causative explanations of big state policies and small state politics. He cites the consistent presence of strategic denial as a general rationale in major power policy-making and projects its future implications for United States foreign policy while claiming to refute exponents of external dependence.

In forging new paths the contributors have interwoven intriguing, perceptive insights with variations on contemporary methodological techniques. Considerable refinement is required, however. Much of the evidence is fragmentary—which invites inaccuracies—and imprecise terminology surfaces in the definition and categorization process of each article. Moreover, refiance on unsubstantiated or invalid assumptions, as well as preconceived misperceptions, beclouds several authors’ findings. Schmitter’s complex quantification methodology uniquely repeats the analytical process utilizing cross-sectional and, subsequently, a longitudinal technique that assists in more decisively confirming, denying, or modifying the initial findings. However, exclusion of economic aid as a variable, his broad definition of military aid, and utilization of possibly irrelevant test periods may negatively affect his cumulative results. Kurth has also developed a novel methodology revolving around a matrix for manifesting unequal states’ relationships. Use of the dialectic, applied to the same relationships through various stages of economic development, culminates in a projection of future connections. Yet Kurth’s oversimplified approach to small state politics limits the utility and credibility of his analysis to the Latin Americanist. Although Weaver accurately connotes the futility of reworking existing hypotheses, his test is skewed by contrasting Bolivia rather than Peru to Brazil’s anti-populist, authoritarian model of development. Likewise, Rouquie’s inadequate descriptive analysis relies upon a misperceived positive ideological correlation between the Peruvian military and Bolivia’s, while dismissing similarities with the Brazilian military. The recent upsurge in rightist military interventions further jeopardizes his interpretations. Finally, Kemp’s concentration on geostrategic and military technical aspects seems incongruent, since his analysis virtually ignores political objectives that determine the interaction of those technical aspects.

While this book is not a landmark study of military rule in Latin America, each author has formulated stimulating conclusions and inferences that challenge existing hypotheses and suggest alternative approaches for refocusing further inquiry. Outdated models must be made a part of history; new schemas that consider the increasing sophistication of the politicized militaries, and their internal as well as external environment, must be encouraged. To this function the Schmitter book serves as a useful contribution to the existing literature.