This prize-winning master’s thesis is a highly informative, well-researched description of the evolution of Mexico’s agrarian reform, the most ambitious in Latin America, dating back, in principle if not in implemented fact, to 1917. Since the late 1920s, relatively conservative regimes have alternated with more progressive administrations, which have been more friendly toward the idea of agrarian reform and especially toward the ejido, the collective, or semicollective form of land holding, production, purchasing, and marketing that in an infinite variety of forms, has characterized Mexico’s efforts in this field—and made research very difficult. Markiewicz’s monograph presents the changing political background (and the opaque, but always high-pitched, rhetoric) against which the actual policies of successive administrations need to be judged, and describes well the many changes in laws, regulations, and administrative structures that have taken place over the years.

The author also presents the results of some of the major evaluation studies—above all, those of Eckstein—and she does as well as can be expected in this complex area in which problems of research design, sampling, and data accuracy have made discussion most difficult. This is not to mention the uncertainty as to what the ultimate measure of success should be: absorption of the unemployed? socially needed production or all production? parsimony in using inputs that are “really” scarce even though their price fails to indicate it? and so forth.

The author does not take sides on the much debated issues in this area: was it a success? If so, could it have been more of a success? Who or what was at fault if such was the case? Some readers will miss her not taking a more committed position. This reviewer, believing that there is already enough committed social science to go around, is glad that the author has stood back.