Hubert Miller’s La iglesia y el estado is the fifth volume in the Guatemalan University Press’ series commemorating the Liberal Reform of 1871. It follows Jorge Mario García Laguardia, La Reforma Liberal en Guatemala (1972); a translation of Paul Burgess’ 1926 biography of Justo Rufino Barrios (1972); Roberto Díaz Castillo’s useful index, Legislación económica de Guatemala durante la Reforma Liberal: Catálogo (1973); and a translation of Thomas Herrick’s 1967 University of Chicago dissertation, Economic and Political Development of Guatemala during the Barrios Period (1974). Like Herrick’s work, Miller’s volume is a revision of his doctoral dissertation (Loyola University, 1964). Despite the credit to Jorge Luján Muñoz on the title page, the preface reveals that the translator was actually Cristina Zilbermann. Muñoz edited the work, adding a few explanatory and bibliographical footnotes from his own research.

Publication of this volume is welcome both on the merits of the monograph itself and because it is another step in the long overdue process of making significant North American research on Central America available in Spanish. Miller documents meticulously from the rarely used Guatemalan ecclesiastical archives, as well as from government archives and contemporary publications, the destruction of the economic and political power of the Guatemalan church during the administration of Justo Rufino Barrios. Judicious in his use of evidence on a topic that was characterized by vitriolic polemics, Miller illuminates the Church-state struggle in Guatemala within the context of the liberal-conservative struggle in nineteenth-century Central America. His excellent summary of the Liberals’ anticlerical measures from 1825 to 1838 and the strong pro-clerical stance of the Conservative governments from 1839 to 1871 sets the stage for his detailed discussion of the Reforma. He demonstrates convincingly that the Liberals of 1871 did not include anticlericalism in their demands for reform, fearful of antagonizing the devout and superstitious masses, a blunder that earlier liberals had made with disastrous consequences. Political and economic reforms dominated the manifestos of those who laid siege to the vestiges of Rafael Carrera’s conservative citadel. Not until clerics lent their support to a counterrevolution against the Liberal government of Miguel García Granados did radical elements gain control of the Reform and begin to demand anticlerical reform.

Barrios, who became president in 1873, directed those reforms which abolished the religious orders and stripped the Church of its economic and political influence. A major part of Miller’s work deals with the removal of education from the Church’s auspices. Barrios succeeded in establishing the sovereignty of the state in its relations with the Church, and only since 1954 has the Church begun to recover some of its lost temporal power and its former preeminence in education. Yet Miller also makes clear that the Liberal Reform was not anti-religious nor even anti-Catholic. Despite strong denunciations and the voluminous anticlerical literature, the reformers never challenged the spiritual role of the clergy. Nevertheless, Miller correctly acknowledges that the destruction of the Church’s temporal power and the expulsion of many priests ultimately may have weakened the religious fervor that the clergy had developed throughout much of the country.

This was, of course, one of the most important events ever to take place in Guatemala, and Miller’s account is a thorough and objective treatment of how it happened. It supersedes Mary Holleraris chapter on the Barrios period in her useful but often superficial Church and State in Guatemala (New York, 1949) and is a significant addition to the growing literature on nineteenth-century liberalism and Churchstate relations in Latin America.