This brief book is a useful bibliography for lawyers and social scientists interested in selected aspects of Latin American law and legal culture. It is not, nor does it make any pretense of being, a comprehensive bibliography of books and articles on Latin American law. It contains only slightly more than 2,200 entries, most of which practicing lawyers would be unlikely to consult. One of the strengths of this bibliography is that it is interdisciplinary, interweaving legal materials with those drawn from other disciplines, such as anthropology, sociology, history, economics, and political science. Although most of the entries are in English, the bibliography contains a substantial number of works in Spanish, as well as an occasional piece in French or Portuguese. Purposely omitted were any materials unlikely to be available in libraries in the United States.
This bibliography is organized in a nontraditional fashion, reflecting its development as a byproduct of the author’s attempt to identify available material for themes developed in his Harvard Law School course on Law, Politics and Revolution in Latin America. It is a fairly successful attempt to identify sources that place major themes of Latin American law in their broader historical, social, political, and economic contexts.
The book is divided into three parts. Part one, called “Pressures of History and Tradition on the Law, Legal Institutions and Processes of Latin America,” packs into 16 pages a selection of some of the most important writing on the history and tradition of Latin American law. Entitled “Varieties of Legal Experience in Latin America: The Interplay of Politics, Economics, Ideology and Convention,” part two is subdivided into three sections: (1) Thought, Legal Thought, and Styles of Legal Reasoning; (2) Codes and Constitutions: Legal Mythologies and Political Reality; and (3) Legal Processes: Learning, Living and Delivering Law in Latin America.
Part three, quixotically entitled “Dreams of Vindication: Revolutionary and Other Responses to the Ravages of Dependency and the Challenges of Development,” is a hodgepodge of five disparate sections, and consumes more than half of the entire book. The introductory section presents theories of dependency and underdevelopment. The second section attempts to cover the vast themes of redistribution of income, status, and political power. The third section focuses on Latin America’s legal relationships with the international community. The fourth looks at Latin American regional integration movements. The concluding section is imaginatively called: “Northward Migrations: Legal Aspects of Efforts to ‘Recolonize’ Lost Territories.”
Two serious omissions make this book a far less useful reference tool than it might have been. One is that it lacks a subject index; someone interested in only a particular country cannot quickly run down relevant references. More importantly, this is a bare-bones bibliography. It contains no comments indicating how good a particular book or article is, precisely what topics are covered, or the significance of the work. Since the bibliography is in law review style, one cannot even determine the length of any of the listed books and articles.
Despite these problems, Snyder has put together a highly original bibliographical collection that will be helpful not only to legal scholars and law students, but for social scientists as well.