This is undoubtedly the best book so far published about Juan Domingo Perón. If there is such a thing, this is the “definitive” biography of the Argentine leader, in the sense that it is from now on the study of Perón with which one must either agree or disagree.
Page has traced the life and career of Perón virtually from the day of his birth to the day of his demise. He has researched all the controversies about both facts and interpretations of the Argentine leader’s career. Although one may not agree with all the author’s conclusions, no one can disagree with the fact that he has thoroughly investigated all possible versions of what happened in any given situation, as well as all reasonable interpretations of motives behind Perón’s behavior in the key events of his career.
The author traces Perón’s life history from his birth, through his early years in Patagonia, his education in Buenos Aires, and the military school. It has interesting information on his army career, emphasizing (as others have not) his role as a teacher in various military institutions, linking this with his later career. It also gives details on his participation in the revolution of 1930, which overthrew the elected regime of President Hipólito Yrigoyen, about which Perón did not like to talk in later years.
Page also deals with Perón’s years in Europe before World War II, his role in the GOU, his rise to power within the military regime that came to power in 1943, his election as president, his years in command, his overthrow, and the eighteen years in the wilderness. Finally, he sketches the second Perón presidency, with particular emphasis on the physical incapacity of Perón during that period, and his manipulation by his wife and José López Rega, whom Page pictures as dominating this second regime of Juan Perón and the first year of that of his successor, Isabel Martínez de Perón.
To some degree, this is a “revisionist” biography. Although Page comments in his final chapter that “there is much to dislike in Perón,” he takes a more sympathetic or understanding position toward Perón and Evita in particular situations than has been customary in most studies of the Argentine leader. This is a book that should be read by everyone interested in twentieth-century Latin American politics and the phenomenon of “popular” dictatorship in the twentieth century.