This is a collection of seven articles on Peruvian independence and the early republic, presented in an accessible format of two slim paperback volumes. Five of them have been previously published elsewhere. Of the remainder, one was presented at a meeting and the other is from a thesis. The essays might be classified as occasional papers, some of which seem based on a smattering of whatever sources were readily at hand.

Josep Fontana presents a discussion of Peruvian independence in the setting of the greater imperial trade crisis, but does not seem aware that the military expeditions sent out from Spain were primarily financed by merchants rather than by the state. Carlos D. Malamud focuses on a trading company in Cádiz largely owned by the Goyeneche family. The case is too specific to allow general conclusions to be drawn from it. Alberto Flores Galindo argues the unsurprising point that social reform remained an unfulfilled promise after independence.

In the second volume, Scarlett O’Phelan Godoy discusses the regional Indian rebellions that were superseded by the larger continental uprising. This article seems valid, but it is based on what in some cases were obscure uprisings. In the longest paper, Alfonso Quiroz considers trade and commerce and the decay of the landed aristocracy before 1841. Though he surveys all regions of Peru, he provides evidence for some areas from later in the century. Heraclio Bonilla looks at Peru’s insertion in the international economy in a quick reprise of work for which he is well known. A brief article by Jorge Basadre on the Peru-Bolivia Confederation, and based overwhelmingly on nineteenth-century historians, ends the collection on an inconclusive note. In short, here are some heavyweight authors, definitely not at their best.

If one assesses the state of historiography in Peru on the basis of these volumes, there would be two main impressions: it is not very innovative in terms of the questions asked or the methods used, and it is pessimistic about the effect of independence and the extent of change before the guano boom. The first impression is unfortunate and probably not true; the second is surely a reflection of a more realistic approach being taken to national shibboleths.