Initialed notices were written by members of the editorial staff.

First a correction: four of the essays in this collection have to do with the psychohistory of Spanish America; the remainder are makeweights. The core of this book, however, demands a close reading commensurate with the author’s serious purpose. Goldwert has applied elements of Freudian theory to sweeping tracts of Latin American collective behavior that have long bemused scholars and defied their efforts at explication by means of quantitative or other social science techniques. In “The Conquest of Mexico as Kairos" he conceptualizes Mexican history since the sixteenth century as the acting out (in Freudian terminology) of a collective neurosis, “the great psychic-political conflict of religious history.” This is the primal Oedipal conflict between stern Father-God and compassionate Son-God, a secular oscillation between “action and law, charisma and bureaucracy, rebellion and obedience.” The notions of “latency” and “kairotic time”—gruesome adjective, that—lend strength to our nagging suspicion that, yes, it all did begin with the conquest. (In Mexico and Peru, anyway; but what of the periphery?) The author’s other forays into collective psychohistory are less satisfying, however. “The Search for the Lost Father-Figure” is a reworking of the theme of the centrality of paternalism, a staple of speculative Brazilian historiography and hackneyed enough in Spanish America, also. The essay on Mexican machismo purportedly departs from Freud’s observations on Eros and Thanatos but fails to confront the question of why the aggressive and destructive impulses associated with the latter do not function analogously to the “discontents” of European civilization. Nor, surprisingly, does the author give more than a glance to the nonHispanic roots of Mexico’s obsession with death.

The strategy of “Rebellion, Alienation, and Conformity in the Lives of the Caudillos” is seriously flawed. The author lists a score or so of nineteenth-century caudillos but does not explain how (or whether) they are meant to be representative of the universe of caudillos. Most of his nominees were, in youth, “misfits,” but some, he admits, were not. If not all caudillos were misfits, certainly not all misfits were caudillos, either; I do not see how this formula gets us much forrader. Being a misfit may derive from either profound neurosis or merely an excess of energy or intelligence; what is important, one might suggest, is the social symbiosis, the conjuncture, at a specific time, of individual and societal destiny. Adolf Hitler and Albert Einstein were both misfits, by Goldwert’s criteria.

For historians who see their craft as extending beyond the positivistic amassing of facts, there is ample material here to ponder. In terms of accomplishment, though, one must concede that the poets and novelists, whose native terrain this is, are still far ahead on points.