The role of the Latin American military in politics, first analyzed systematically a generation ago, continues to intrigue scholars today. Among recent works, this anthology stands out as a welcome addition. It includes an extensive introductory essay by the editor, ten selections from the secondary literature, and a useful list of suggested readings. The individual entries appeared originally between 1973 and 1991: four as articles in well-known journals, the others as sections from books, monographs, or anthologies. Some contributions are regionwide in scope, while others deal specifically with Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil.

To this reviewer, the most valuable section of the book is the editor’s introduction. Linda Rodríguez argues that the military, since the late colonial period, has had legitimate and widely recognized responsibilities for defense, internal order, and development. There were sound reasons for the creation and maintenance of a strong military, and equally good reasons for the armed forces to seek a powerful voice in national security affairs and public policy. Rodríguez traces this theme from Spain’s dismal experience in the Seven Years’ War, which fostered the need for a colonial army, through the numerous European and U.S. interventions of the nineteenth century. She contends, moreover, that concern for a strong national defense was spurred by numerous intraregional wars and territorial disputes. More recently, the threat of armed extremist insurgencies, powerful crime and drug organizations, and the civilian leadership’s loss of credibility have provided an additional rationale for continuing the military’s leading role in politics.

The selections begin with Jorge Domínguez’ examination of the rise of a new military elite in the late colonial period and Christon Archer’s explanation for the militarization of Mexico during the bloody independence war. William Sater and Rodríguez deal with nationalism, professionalism, and military intervention in the nineteenth century, while Frederick Nunn analyzes military political thought in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Stanley Hilton studies the evolution in Brazil of a military industrial development strategy. Daniel Masterson focuses on the formation of new institutions for advanced military training in Peru, and Peter and Susan Calvert offer a broadened interpretation of “military developmentalism” in the context of implementing national security doctrine. Gabriel Marcella looks at the military’s still-to-be-defined national security role in an era of low-intensity warfare. Finally, William Ackroyd contrasts the apolitical Mexican military model with the more politically assertive role of the military elsewhere.

This anthology will interest not only specialists in civil-military relations but also historians and political scientists who struggle to explain to students why, to this day, the military has a commanding presence in Latin American politics.