This volume, a translation of Howard’s revised master’s thesis, purports to examine the brief regime of Venezuela’s novelist–President Rómulo Gallegos (1948) to discover how successfully it grappled with the problem of underdevelopment in a dependent nation. The author is an avowed dependentista who explicitly uses the metropolis–satellite model and employs marxist tools of analysis to point out the limitations of reform during not only the Gallegos presidency but also the entire Acción Democrática trienio (1945-1948). He acknowledges that he would have preferred a socialistic alternative to the “bourgeois revolution” that Rómulo Betancourt and Gallegos brought Venezuela.

The most interesting sections of the book are those discussing Gallegos’ political ideology, as articulated in his novels, and its relationship to positivist, libertarian and marxist thought. The big question that confronted the famous educator-novelist, states Howard, was whether to adopt an evolutionary or revolutionary approach to fighting his country’s underdevelopment. The author declares that Gallegos clearly opted for evolution and stresses that he, like Betancourt, was a bourgeois revolutionary who sought to reform, not replace, the existing capitalist system. Although it is not made clear to what extent Gallegos influenced these younger reformers in this direction, Howard feels that he personified the aspirations for political power of Venezuela’s frustrated middle class.

This work contains several flaws, the most serious of which is the absence of a clear objective and focus. Rather than a study of the historical significance of the Gallegos regime, as the author purports, it is a broad analysis of the “development of underdevelopment” in republican Venezuela up to the 1948 military coup. In addition, the author did not use all available sources. For example, although he is concerned with the ways that the metropolis shaped Venezuela’s evolution, Howard did not consult U.S. diplomatic records, which would have revealed some of the means by which the United States attempted to maintain Venezuela as a loyal satellite. Furthermore, his analysis of the 1935-1948 period does not depart drastically from more ideologically conventional studies. He also views each succeeding regime as having become more reform-minded and nationalistic than its predecessor. While recognizing that the strongest impetus for reform occurred after 1945, Howard laments that AD stopped far short of providing an authentic socialist revolution. In summary, the stimulating insights that this book contributes are undercut by its conceptual, organizational and documentary limitations.