Charles H. Brown, a professor of journalism and the author of earlier books, including The Correspondents’ War: Journalists in the Spanish-American War, has produced an excellent, detailed account of several nineteenth-century “agents of Manifest Destiny.” In fact, he tells you everything you have ever wanted to know about the filibusters. After a prologue discussing the early nineteenth-century precursors, Aaron Burr and Francisco de Miranda, Brown discusses filibustering efforts in Cuba, Mexico, and Nicaragua in the 1840s and 1850s. Although he considers numerous filibusters in these places, he stresses the intrusions of Narciso López in Cuba, and of William Walker in Mexico (Baja California and Sonora) and in Nicaragua. In each of these cases, there is detailed discussion of motives, financing, recruiting, military activities, and results. In fact, one can follow William Walker’s movements on almost a daily basis, from the initiation of his efforts in Baja California in 1853 to his death in 1860, during a final effort to gain control of Nicaragua.

This is an authoritative, indeed definitive, account. Brown has thoroughly researched his material—in private papers, government documents, contemporary periodicals, and scholarly books and articles—and documents his book very well. His bibliography, especially the long list of books and articles, is exhaustive. Furthermore, Brown placed the history of the filibusters in proper context, relating them to the Manifest Destiny of the 1840s and 1850s, the controversy over slavery expansion (Walker legalized slavery in Nicaragua when he was president there), and the growing concern over European threats to the Monroe Doctrine. There is a good account, for example, of Isthmian diplomacy and the negotiation of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty of 1850.

Although much of what Brown writes is familiar, his book is a major contribution because of the extent of his research, the detail he provides, and the integration of his subject into the broader history of United States expansionism and its sectional implications.