The author of these three volumes is a member of an old and prominent Panamanian family. He himself has had an active political career, having been a national deputy during the twenties and thirties, the Minister of Education in 1942, and a presidential candidate in 1936 and 1956. He was editor of El Panamá-América during the late 1920s and early thirties and in the same period the founder and leader of Acción Comunal, a nationalistic political action group loosely affiliated with the Partido Liberal. This history of Panama is, therefore, personal and narrowly focused. The author, in fact, seeks to set the record “straight” with reference to the role of the Goytía family and his own in Panamanian affairs. By the author’s own admission, the volume on the nineteenth century is characterized by parientismo and the two dealing with the twentieth century by yoísmo.

As such, the volumes treat various episodes in great detail, but ignore the broad context of isthmian history. For example, one learns a great deal about the activities of the Goytías in the 1863 constitutional crisis, but there is no mention of such events as the construction of the Panama Railroad, the French canal effort, or the Prestán revolt of 1885. Likewise, the author devotes the major portion of the twentieth-century volumes to the 1931 coup and his own controversial role in it. In all his discussions, the author reproduces numerous documents, many of them already published, but also includes a large quantity of unpublished materials, including letters and memoranda. The volumes are, to a large degree, a collection of documents with commentary and a family history. Intertwined are polemical essays, in which the author, though no implacable foe of the United States, vigorously defends Panama’s sovereignty over the canal route.

These volumes serve two purposes. They provide new sources and insights for scholars and they provide satisfaction for the Goytia family that its side has been told.