Sembraron la no siembra is a historical account of the boycott of tobacco production by Puerto Rican landowners in 1931. The author effectively combines oral history with newspaper accounts and police reports to describe the circumstances that pitted a segment of tobacco producers against the U.S. corporations which controlled warehousing, distribution, and export.

The book is well written. The author writes with a certain passion that impels the reader to go on. Particular attention is given to the local economic conditions that led to the unrest, and ultimately violence, and the political ties that were forged to counteract the economic might of the corporations. Support by the colonial state insulated the corporations from direct attack, so the brunt of the violence was aimed at smaller producers in surrounding areas. Among the most interesting aspects of this work is the description of the regionalization of tobacco production in Puerto Rico. Support for the boycott came from the tobacco haciendas, where the cooperative movement was strongest.

The book’s only weak part is its assessment of the effects of the boycott. The author uses rather crude statistical techniques to examine particular trends among variables. However, it is inappropriate to suggest causal relations based on simple correlation coefficients. The statistical analysis simply detracts from the more convincing descriptive analysis. The author claims that the boycott reduced tobacco production significantly. This may be so, but the evidence is not conclusive. Only if the price elasticity of supply is zero can we attribute most of the precipitous decline in output to the boycott. It is likely that many producers simply reduced output and moved into other lines of production in response to the price decline. But these minor critiques do not detract from a worthwhile contribution to Puerto Rican economic history.