The revisionist syntheses of the presidencies of Bartolomé Mitre by Chianelli and of Domingo F. Sarmiento by Vedoya are two of a projected twenty-seven volumes in a popular series edited by Félix Luna that covers Argentine history since 1808. Both develop many revisionist themes, especially the porteño elite’s subjugation of the interior provinces and the ubiquitous influence of the British that together created Argentine economic dependency. Vedoya’s appraisal exemplifies their attitude toward the liberal elite in general: “Sarmiento fue un sembrador que distribuyó mal las semillas, y no obtuvo cosecha” (p. 115).

While united in a common criticism of liberal policies, the authors diverge widely in their emphases. Chianelli devotes over half of the book to foreign and military affairs (one-third to the Paraguayan War) but pays scant attention to economic and social issues. In contrast, Vedoya examines public finance in detail and criticizes educational, transportation, and immigration polices, but largely ignores political, diplomatic, and military questions.

The most serious limitation of these studies lies not in the scholarship or interpretation but rather in the nature of the series itself. Periodization by presidential administration is unsuited to the analysis of most important themes and processes (a problem recognized by Vedoya, p. 210). Thus Chianelli’s extended treatment of the Paraguayan War stops abruptly when Mitre leaves office in October 1868, over two years before the end of hostilities. Vedoya scarcely mentions the war in the succeeding volume.

Both authors write in a clear, uncomplicated style which is inviting to the general reader. Unfortunately, no clear picture of the two presidents or of their administrations emerges because of the selective, fragmented focus of the interpretations. The specialist, unless expressly interested in revisionist arguments, will be disappointed by the heavy reliance upon secondary sources and by the meager citations that omit page numbers. In any case, the reader will doubtless wish to weigh the presentations against liberal interpretations by Ricardo Levene, Roberto Levillier, José C. Campobassi, and others of the Academia National de la Historia.