In this short and elegantly presented account, the author tells of his visits to grassroots development centers supported by the Inter-American Foundation in the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. Combining project histories with analysis, he describes the benefits and costs of cooperatives and the role of associations working in social or economic contexts. Hirschman's gentle optimism finds it "noteworthy . . . that private initiatives for social promotion have today come to occupy so prominent a place."