For many Latin Americanists, there is some reluctance to undertake a textbook. They argue that the effort is intellectually unexciting and—owing to a limited market—financially unrewarding. Unfortunately, such an attitude can too often lead to the appearance of works which are, to put it gently, modest in attainment. This is decidedly not the case, however, with Michael J. Kryzanek’s splendid survey of hemispheric relations. At a time when a host of new books are concentrating on the controversies and debates of the moment, Kryzanek provides a broader treatment, rich in historical context and, at the same time, incorporating and explaining the bases for contemporary policy problems.
The structure of the work is singularly sound. The first of three parts provides an admirably succinct and penetrating review of the evolution of U. S. -Latin American relations. Ranging from the Monroe Doctrine to Castroism, the author provides a revealing introduction for students new to the topics, while jogging and sharpening the memories of other readers. He then turns to Latin American policy making, a topic more often ignored or underemphasized in other texts. Kryzanek provides both a factual and an analytic review of governmental and nongovernmental participants and stresses the importance of presidential style and executive leadership as well. This is a topic which deserves further scholarly attention; its inclusion in a text is felicitous.
The final section outlines hemispheric dilemmas of policy formation. The fragility of democracy, perceptions of the communist challenge, and the decline in United States influence and power etch the themes on which Kryzanek elaborates. His effort to present a fair and balanced view is largely successful, and the reader is permitted to develop personal opinions on the basis of divergent arguments. This is a book, then, which stands out for its skillful and articulate review of the subject. The publishers would do well to make it available in paperback. Beyond this, it is a text which constitutes a worthy addition to such distinguished predecessors as Federico G. Gil’s Latin American-United States Relations and G. Pope Atkins’s Latin America in the International Political System.