This is a revised edition of a work that first appeared in 1953. The author takes into account new works on Viscardo y Guzmán, especially Merle E. Simmon’s Los escritos de Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán, precursor de la independencia hispanoamericana (1983). Although the principal subject is Viscardo, the work also covers the activities of many of the other exiled Jesuits, such as the Chilean Juan José Godoy and the Mexican Francisco Clavijero. Miguel Batllori reconstructs Viscardo’s life and traces his transformation from an insecure exile into a determined advocate of independence. The author studies in detail the exiled Peruvian’s attempts to influence the British to support Túpac Amaru, and Viscardo’s subsequent Letter to the Spanish Americans.

At the same time, Batllori lays to rest several popular myths about the exiled Jesuits as conspirators in favor of the independence of their homelands. Most interesting is his account of how those myths probably originated. The British, in particular, saw exiled Jesuits not only as first-class informants on the reality of Latin America but as potential conspirators capable of undermining Spanish control over the New World. In reality, very few of the exiled Jesuits actually advocated independence, at least publicly, much less entered into conspiracies to promote it.

More important was their role in correcting the prejudices Europeans entertained about the New World. Meanwhile, they enriched European intellectual life with their fresh and detailed chronicles of life in the missions and their histories of their respective homelands. Batllori also brings to light the close ties that bound the exiled Jesuits together. Clavijero knew of Viscardo’s writings, and Viscardo corresponded with Clavijero. Indeed, the exiled Jesuits created the first Latin American community with a sense of a continental identity.

The second half of the book consists of documents relating to Viscardo and the other exiles: the letters exchanged between Viscardo and the British consul in Italy, notes from the Foreign Office on Viscardo’s activities in London, and so on. The last and most important document is Francisco de Miranda’s Spanish translation of the Carta a los españoles americanos (1801). All in all, this is a critical, balanced, and well-documented study.