This latest addition to the already vast bibliography on Simón Bolívar is a volume in the Library of World Biography, a series aimed at a general rather than scholarly audience. There are no footnotes for the numerous quotations and the bibliography consists of six works in English. Worcester offers a straightforward narrative biography with very limited analysis or discussion of the context in which Bolívar operated. Three chapters, or over one-third of the text, are devoted to the period up to the convening of the Angostura Congress and the victory at Boyacá. Two more chapters, or just over one-fourth of the book, are devoted to the military campaigns culminating in victory at Ayacucho. The last four chapters, or one-third of the book, relate Bolívar’s efforts to create a grand confederation or at least preserve Gran Colombia.

This book does not shed new light on the life of Bolívar. In fact, it owes a heavy debt to Daniel F. O’Leary’s Narración or Robert F. McNerney’s translation of the same, the biographies of Bolívar by Gerhard Masur and Salvador de Madariaga, and Victor W. Von Hagen’s biography of Manuela Sáenz. Works of synthesis are often appropriate, but some sections of this work come closer to paraphrase than synthesis. Compare, for example, the second and fourth paragraphs of page 164 with pages 336 and 340 of McNerney, Bolívar and the War of Independence.

There are other problems as well. There are a number of factual errors such as the reversal of reality (p. 78) as the patriots are awarded the victory at El Semen which historians have previously credited to the Spanish. The occasional positioning of events out of correct chronological order is misleading and creates some confusion for the reader as does the frequent failure to explain the motives of major participants in power struggles.