Of all the reforms the Peruvian military regime has carried out since taking over the state in 1968, by far the one with the greatest impact on the existing social and political order has been agrarian reform. Not only has this measure provided legal norms for undermining property relations and eliminating entire social classes in the countryside, it has also served as a strategic instrument for both the state and different strata of the peasantry in their continuing struggle for control over the land, and, by extension, over the very process of capital accumulation occurring there as well.

By reading political conflicts and clashes of interest into the formulation and application of this key reformist measure, Luis Pasara’s book provides a brilliant and refreshing contribution to our understanding of some of the complexities of recent Peruvian history, and of broader issues concerning rural development in contemporary Latin America. By focusing on the mutual interrelations between legal, social, and political spheres in a given historical conjuncture, Pasara offers keen methodological insights to those interested in the systematic study of law and social change. In this sense the book is doubly valuable, particularly for those who in his words “are searching for concrete forms of organization that can lead to overcoming poverty, social marginalization, and underdevelopment” (p. 14) in Peru, Latin America, and other Third World nations.