This volume assesses the scholarly literature on the history of business in seven Latin American countries. The contributors—who treat Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela — are successful in achieving their goals. Through their extensive analysis of each country, the authors identify and discuss the major problems associated with theory, investigation, and methodology. In so doing, they point out deficiencies in the existing literature and make suggestions as to how the history of business in Latin America can be strengthened by outlining an agenda for future research on the topic.

Scholars of Latin America will appreciate the timeliness of this collection. Because neoliberal economic agendas have swept the region in the last decade, the interest and focus on Latin America has shifted from social instability and revolutionary upheaval to political economy. The authors, most of whom are Latin American and British scholars, resurrect historical analyses begun at the end of the 1970s, which placed business, both state and private as well as foreign and national, at the center of the history of the region.

But these essays advance the study of business history in Latin America by moving away from the narrow parameters of investigation and analysis, such as dependency theory, which characterized the bulk of that earlier scholarship. Accordingly, more attention is paid to the impact of regional capital and family-business networks and their relationship with the state in the formation and development of the Latin American economies. Especially important is the contribution some essays add to our understanding of how national and foreign capitalist enterprises have interfaced and altered entire patterns of socialization through such practices as labor recruitment and the transfer of technology. These studies reveal that cultural change, a dimension ignored by earlier scholars of business history, must constitute an integral component of any future research on business activity in Latin America.

In addition to the above, a major strength of this collection is the plethora of bibliographic information that each essay provides. As a result, not only is each essay grounded in an exhaustive examination of the available historical literature, but the reader is also treated to a definitive list of works on business in Latin America in both English and Spanish. The essays provide the North American scholar of Latin America a much needed compilation of these essential works, which by itself elevates the historiographic significance of this volume.

Although these contributions treat an increasingly relevant subject matter central to understanding the course of Latin American history, business history is still the exclusive domain of a handful of scholars. However, unlike the consumption of dependency theory, which punctuated the scholarly works of the history of business in Latin America during the late 1970s, this collection is relatively free of jargon. Thus, it can be useful to historians in general as well as to specialists who wish to introduce their students to this topic.