One might think that there would be little need for another study of the political life of Ecuador’s first president. In fact, however, relatively little scholarly attention has been paid by Ecuadorians to General Juan José Flores because he was a Venezuelan and because his reputation has been so thoroughly blackened by political adversaries and partisan historians like Roberto Andrade. Vásconez Hurtado, a novelist, amateur historian, and a descendant of Flores, has undertaken the task of championing the cause of the unpopular founder of the republic in this detailed account of Flores’s political activities. He achieves his purpose to some degree, but he allows partisanship to obscure important aspects of the story.

Vásconez’s research in the Flores family archive, until recently closed to most scholars, has furnished him with much detail that sheds some new light on political and, chiefly, military events. The author presents extended excerpts of documents not previously in the public domain. The added details are not used, however, to provide an interpretation superior in any way to the best accounts by Luis Robalino Dávila and Pedro Fermín Cevallos. General Flores certainly deserves a scholarly defense, but it is not necessary or historically accurate to denounce Flores’s adversaries as treacherous and wicked, as the author does, in order to rehabilitate the first president.

A major omission in this work, and a curious one, is the topic of Flores’s monarchist views, which lay behind the hated constitution of 1843; his secret plot with General Andrés de Santa Cruz to erect thrones in Quito, Lima, and La Paz; and the Spanish filibuster project of 1846. The complete exclusion of information about Flores’s monarchist intrigues presents a more favorable view of the first president, but it deprives the reader of an understanding of what he was really up to in his last years in office.

The historical picture is also clouded by vigorous denunciations of other leaders, such as the enlightened but difficult Vicente Rocafuerte, who is arraigned by Vásconez for his allegedly unreasonable and unpatriotic opposition to Flores’s aggressive policy toward Peru, a policy that is understandable only with knowledge of Flores’s monarchical plot with Santa Cruz. Another political opponent, Vicente Ramón Roca, is denounced as Flores’s “más escabroso adversario” (p. 390), in part because he spread a “rumor” that Flores was plotting with Santa Cruz against Peru (p. 235). The author’s conclusion that rebel leaders who ousted Flores in 1845 were faithless is partly true, but it leaves out the fact that Flores often did not act in good faith. The new information about General Flores is valuable, but a more balanced treatment is still needed.