ATLAS (Agrupación de Trabajadores Latinoamericanos Sindicalistas) was a pan-Latin American labor confederation created under the auspices of the Argentine Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT). Its stated goal was to provide a third alternative, neither Communist nor influenced by the United States. Its founders also intended it to serve as a propaganda vehicle for Peronism in the rest of Latin America. Founded in 1952, ATLAS had a brief existence as an active organization. The 1955 overthrow of Juan Perón caused the confederation to lose monetary support, as well as backing by its only sizeable affiliate, the CGT. ATLAS continued a shadowy existence from that point until the present. While never a large organization, having significant support outside of Argentina only in a Colombia dominated by Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, it still presents some intriguing possibilities for short studies. How successful could a pan-Latin American organization be? How well could the Peronist vision of a third way sell outside of Argentina, and what were the chief impediments to such a development?

Unfortunately, Panella answers none of these queries, nor does he go beyond such existing studies as the Ph.D. dissertation in political science of John T. Deiner (Rutgers, 1969) or Manuel Urriza’s CGT y ATLAS (Buenos Aires, 1988). Panella’s book is an uneasy mixture of text and documents. The first segment is a 31-page discussion of the founding of ATLAS in 1952 and its activities up to 1955. The author relies almost totally on La Prensa and on the official periodical of the CGT. This discussion is followed by 23 documents that give some flavor of ATLAS’s ideological positions and that of its affiliates.

The second section contains a brief analysis and then 41 letters exchanged between Perón and Juan R. Garone, 23 sent by Perón. Garone was the secretary general of ATLAS in 1955, and from the information presented through these letters he struggled, at times almost single-handedly, to maintain the organization in the long years after 1955. The heart of the correspondence takes place between 1956 and 1959, when Perón is still wandering around Latin America, before establishing himself in Madrid. He clearly wanted a wide net of support and urged Garone to keep ATLAS alive, though Perón subordinated it to other interests. While Perón was living in Caracas, he sharply criticized Garone for permitting an ATLAS publication to attack Rafael Trujillo. The correspondence underlines how dependent the exiled Perón became upon dictators of the stripe of Trujillo and Marcos Pérez Jiménez. After Perón became securely established in Madrid, he seemed to have lost all interest in ATLAS, and Garone wrote begging for some kind of guidance. In what is a kind of postscript, we find that in 1995 Garone finally resigned as head of ATLAS and a new leader was appointed. However, the reader is given no idea whether the organization continued to exist in the intervening years as anything more than a one-man operation, and if it did, where the money came from.

Unfortunately, the author did not make full use of his opportunities. He was able to talk with Garone but never seemed to have asked him about a wide range of potentially interesting matters. This is a disappointing book, which does not tell us much about a minor but intriguing subject.