This study, a revision of Susan Schneider’s 1970 doctoral dissertation, comes as a welcome addition to the growing literature on monopoly companies in the Iberian world. By drawing on a wide range of archival and published sources, the author sheds new light on the origins and activities of the General Company of the Cultivation of the Vine of the Upper Douro, the most successful of the crown monopolies initiated by Pombal. As Schneider shows, the company was primarily established to protect the great noble wine growers of the Douro region from losses caused by the surfeit of cheap wines produced by small farmers after 1740 and bought up in large quantities by English merchants. Thanks to the ruthless, sometimes draconian, measures sanctioned by Pombal, the small producer was largely driven out of the export market.

Schneider’s discussion of Pombal is especially illuminating. She shows that, in the case of the wine industry at least, Pombal’s reputation as great reformer, opponent of English commercial interests, and benefactor of the Portuguese mercantile classes has been exaggerated. Indeed, she argues that Pombal’s policies in the Douro region served to reinforce the status quo. English penetration of the Portuguese economy was not so much blocked as channeled into dealings with the great growers favored by the company. It was only after Pombal's regime that Portuguese wine merchants achieved greater prominence in the export trade.

Despite the book’s subtitle and a nod to André Gunder Frank in the preface, Schneider offers little discussion of dependency. Surprisingly, the author does not use Sandro Sideri’s Trade and Power, a valuable study of Portugal’s dependence on England. One must conclude that dependency theory was grafted onto an otherwise well-conceived study as something of an afterthought.

That question aside, Schneider’s monograph provides a clear and co-herent examination of the activities of the Douro Company, the great wine growers that it served, and the Portuguese and English merchant communities in Oporto. Her portrait of Pombal, which chops his reformer image down to size, contributes to a revised view of the Portuguese dictator.