The third of Fernando Picó’s monographs on Utuado’s society and economy, Los gallos peleados, covers the years between 1911 and 1940, a period during which a number of individuals—the subjects of this volume—responded to marginalization, caused by socioeconomic change, “with reactions as varied as unlawful behavior, alcoholism, prostitution, insanity, suicide, and worker and political activism” (pp. 11-12). The author’s use of sources is exhaustive and exceptionally skillful. His development of issues relevant to the topic reveals careful organization and clarity of objectives. Suggestions for further research fill the reader with enthusiasm and hope. The work is a disappointment, however. Picó’s expert handling of primary materials is not accompanied by a coherent framework for analysis; the schematic treatment of central ideas undermines his argument; and the unequal application of methods of historical inquiry suggests an incomplete piece.

Delving into police reports for indications regarding a population’s response to socioeconomic transformations necessitates an equally thorough look at the nature and degree of change. Picó leaves nothing to the reader’s imagination when it conies to descriptions of incidents recorded in police files: he provides figures for runaway children, moving accounts of lumpen life-styles, chronologies of strikes and other methods of worker resistance. The relative significance of this valuable information, however, cannot be measured accurately since Picó offers no indication as to the incidence of different types of behavior before the period covered or as to their frequency within the population of Utuado as a whole. In a contextual vacuum, the reader is left to guess the causes and pervasiveness of the responses adopted.

Picó’s sketchy account of “americanizaron,” “modernization,” “economic crisis,” and the resulting “social displacement” in the first years of the twentieth century is partly responsible for these lacunae. Although the identification of significant influences on patterns of behavior is ably managed, the links between the experiences shared by Utuado’s population and emerging life-styles are not always successfully established. Who is to say for sure that the alcoholics, prostitutes, and suicidal cases Picó encountered were reacting to socioeconomic change and did not constitute simply any town’s share of displaced individuals? Perhaps it would be more fruitful to look into official handling of these social misfits and inquire as to the causes for changes in policy as a measure of these new developments. If the author argues, though, that transformations in traditional social and economic structures—however defined—led to noticeable shifts in the population’s perception of itself, he must consistently provide the reader with direct causes and immediate effects.

The authors continued study of Puerto Rico’s mountain region offers increasingly innovative ways of looking at the social and economic history of the island. His treatment of the experiences undergone by minors, of the reception afforded official rulings declaring traditional activities illegal, and of the perplexity with which old-time hacendados, merchants, politicians, and the well-to-do reacted to the entrance of new groups into their spheres of influence is exemplary. The questions proposed in the section on the role of police as peace-keepeis within their own community provide the groundwork for future research. Having been given this taste of excellent scholarship, the reader is forced to ask for more.

This book was left unfinished. The sources used must be exploited through the application of a fitting analytical framework. Its thesis must be strengthened by a more explicit definition of changes and responses. More of it should convince and not suggest.