In This Review

The Contemporary History of Latin America
The Contemporary History of Latin America
By Tulio Halperin Donghi, edited and translated by John Charles
Duke University Press, 1993, 408 pp.

The general reader as well as those who have more specialized interests in Latin America have lacked for many years a reliable introduction to the regions history. The translation and updating of Tulio Halperin's classic, long a favorite of Spanish-speaking readers throughout the hemisphere, is therefore a welcome arrival. Halperin, who teaches at the University of California at Berkeley, is one of Argentina's best-known historians, and he provides a sweeping overview that skillfully weaves social, political and economic history into a compelling and accessible narrative reaching from the colonial period to the present. Deeply rooted in original research, an enviable command of the secondary literature, and profound appreciation of the debates among economists over the causes of underdevelopment, this will quickly become the standard work in the field. He cautions: if the past demonstrates anything it is that the way ahead will follow the zigzagging path of Latin America's incongruent and contradictory historical experience . . . .

In retrospect, Halparin concludes, the naive promises of definite solutions to the regions historical dilemmas, repeatedly announced during the recent decades, serve as a warning that the next bend in the road is unlikely to be the last.