This latest work of Eduardo Pérez is a sequel to his Guerra irregular en la independencia de la Nueva Granada y Venezuela, 1810-1830 (1982) and a foretaste of promised further studies focusing on southern South America in the independence period. It is unusual in its combination of regional theaters, of which one is Spain itself, despite what we might expect from the title. It is also unusual simply as a work of history by a Latin American scholar devoted (except for that Iberian component) to other parts of Latin America. If the progress of economic and political integration brings more such instances of historiographical integration, we will have reason to be pleased, even if this particular effort is not entirely successful.

Pérez uses a justifiably broad definition of “guerra irregular,” encompassing anything from a forest ambush perpetrated by Amerindian resisters to the depredations of bandits and contrabandists working under contract for the official forces of order. He starts with the Iberian case, noting ancient and medieval precedents but concentrating on the Spanish war of independence against Napoleonic France and its various sequels. He thereby not only contradicts the title but assumes something of a reverse-chronology approach, in that the American cases examined subsequently are mostly earlier in time. The plan makes sense, however, because the peninsular theater clearly illustrates so many of the classic varieties of “guerra irregular” and gives rise to much of the pertinent terminology.

The American cases include the rebellion of Túpac Amaru, the Paraguayan Comuneros, and a number of others touched on even more briefly; but roughly half the book is devoted to the area of the Jesuits’ Paraguayan missions, along with late colonial Uruguay and Rio Grande do Sul. Here most of the story is familiar in broad outline, with the possible exception of the conflict between Spaniards and Portuguese and their local auxiliaries in Rio Grande, which continued intermittently up to the start of the independence era.

Even in dealing with familiar episodes, Pérez offers some unfamiliar data, much of it culled from printed primary sources. But despite the attention to the taxonomy of “irregular” forms of combat and the frequent citations of Braudel and others on the nature of history, the treatment is more descriptive than analytical. The writing is also at times repetitious, and is broken by an excessive number of quotations, many in Portuguese, that do not necessarily express matters better than they could have been expressed in the author’s own words. The work can thus be consulted with profit, but it is not an easy one to read and is, in the end, something of a disappointment.