Outdated articles by Dexter Perkins and William Spence Robertson were for decades the only English-language studies of Russian policy toward the emerging nations of Latin America. Now Russell Bartley’s monograph, representing ten years of research efforts, provides a detailed treatment of the subject. Limited access to Soviet archives hindered the author, but he has consulted manuscript collections in Spain, Portugal, Brazil, and the United States. Moreover, he has made extensive use of studies by Soviet scholars, unavailable to all but a few Latin Americanists because of the language barrier.
The topic imposes certain limitations on Bartley. Russia had no diplomatic relations with any of the new states of Latin America until recognizing Brazilian independence in 1828 and restricted commercial relations during the entire period of the study. Consequently, the emerging nations remain in the wings while discussions and rivalries among the courts of Europe occupy center stage. Only Brazil receives much attention, due to the residence of the Portuguese royal family in Rio de Janeiro from 1808 to 1821 and to the critical place of Brazil in the New World concerns of Tsar Alexander I. Four-fifths of the book deal with the first decade indicated in the title, through the 1818 conference at Aix-la-Chapelle, which marked the end of Alexander’s efforts to effect colonial pacification by means of collective mediation. Only one chapter deals with the second decade, and only four pages on the years after 1822.
Despite these limitations, Bartley has produced an able analysis of Russian policy toward Latin America within the intersecting matrixes of European power politics and the tsar’s global commercial and strategic interests. This study takes its place with those of C. K. Webster and Wiliam W. Kaufmann on Great Britain, Arthur P. Whitaker, Dexter Perkins, and J. Fred Rippy on the United States, William Spence Robertson on France, and Manfred Kossok on the German states to round out our knowledge of the Latin American policies of the major foreign powers at the time of independence. We may all look forward to promised future volumes in which Bartley plans to continue his analysis up to the recent past.