The title of this volume is misleading if one expects a new monograph on the early Rosas era from one of the ablest Argentine historians working in that period. Instead, it is a collection of ten articles which have been published previously in Argentina during the 1940s and 1950s. It is well worthwhile, however, to have these pieces brought together in one volume since Enrique M. Barba brings a scholarly and relatively detached point of view to his investigations of this highly controversial period of Argentine history. The appendices attached to four of the articles contain a number of key documents on the Rosas era.

The first two articles, “La misión Cavia a Bolivia” and “La misión mediadora de Quiroga al Norte,” both reveal how Rosas used whatever means were at hand to fend off movements in the interior to get on with the organization of the Argentine nation. Both Pedro Feliciano Sáenz Cavia and Facundo Quiroga were used to expound Don Manuel’s views that the times were not propitious for calling a constituent assembly. Barba makes it clear, moreover, that Quiroga—whose assassination while returning from his mission has sometimes been interpreted as rather more than just Rosas’ good fortune in eliminating a powerful potential rival—was fully in accord with the dictator’s arguments for delaying the organization of the nation at that time.

In “La lucha por el federalismo argentino,” the paper given by Barba upon becoming a member of the Academía Nacional de la Historia (August 28, 1956), Rosas’ use of the issue of federalism versus unitary forms of government is succinctly delineated. “La palabra federal era una bandera seguida emocionalmente y a su abrigo pudo el dictador porteão imponer un centralismo desorbitado con solo cubrir sus fórmulas políticas con el marbete mágico” (p. 202). In this and other articles Barba makes it clear that Rosas felt that the interests of Buenos Aires—and incidentally his own—were best served by putting off creation of an Argentine nation. In February 1862, a decade after his overthrow, the porteño dictator was still urging on his correspondents in Argentina “. . . la necesidad de dejarse por ahora y hasta algunos años más, de pensar en el Congreso [Constituyente]” (p. 11).