In this volume, Gavin Smith makes an outstanding contribution to the study of peasant protest. While his arguments are diverse and nuanced, the most important theme is that the “exciting narrative of political struggle must be reintegrated into the parallel experience of each participant in trying to keep bread on the table” (p. 170).

Smith’s account of the Andean community, Huasicancha, and its people climaxes in the peasants’ invasion of the contiguous hacienda, Tucle, in 1964. The bulk of the text preceding this climactic event shows, primarily through the life stories of families, how diverse peasant groups were brought into the land recuperation effort more for reasons of economic advantage than ideology. “Beliefs and rituals were of little interest to Huasicanchinos” (p. 234). Smith’s argument is bolstered through archival records, the minutes of political meetings, and his own observations in the community at two different time periods.

Smith’s work is innovative among anthropological studies because it does not focus on the status quo in one community, opting rather to follow the dynamic of peasants’ lives, wherever this leads them or Smith. The author describes how the migration patterns of recent decades affected not only day-to-day life but also peasant mobilization.

The book is not without shortcomings, however. The writing style, especially in the first half of the volume, is turgid. And a key question for the 1980s is not addressed: does the rational-choice perspective favored here by Smith for the peasant political mobilizations of the 1960s also explain the Shining Path mobilization of the 1980s?