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Hispanic American Historical Review 82.1 (2002) 192-194

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Book Review

Region and Nation:
Politics, Economy, and Society in Twentieth-Century Argentina

Region and Nation: Politics, Economy, and Society in Twentieth-Century Argentina. Edited by JAMES P. BRENNAN and OFELIA PIANETTO. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000 . Maps. Tables. Figures. Notes. Index. xvii, 233 pp. Cloth, $45.00.

The editors of this fine book are correct in decrying the lack of serious regional studies in Argentina. Regional studies of Mexico, by contrast, have dominated Mexican historiography in the last 25 years. The introduction correctly points out that Buenos Aires dominated Argentina so thoroughly, since at least 1880 , that attention on the port city and national themes have too often obscured events in the interior. This anthology is a notable contribution because it is one of the few books in English that addresses regional history directly. As in all edited volumes, quality varies. Brennan has done yeoman work in translating Spanish-language items into English.

In her study of Santa Fe from 1890 to 1909 , Marta Bonaudo claims that by 1890 , state power had been consolidated and that Santa Fe had experienced the "bounty of the country's success." One would assume that Buenos Aires province, which is curiously not part of this study, would have profited more than any other region. And certainly the national government would not enjoy total control until somewhat later. She also asserts that Unión Cívica (UC) leaders acted as representatives of foreigners eager for naturalization; however, this does not explain the high percentage of foreigners who did not want to be Argentine citizens. It is also clear that the author does not feel that the UC transformation into the Unión Cívica Radical (UCR) is important enough to explain clearly nor are the critical acuerdo machinations of Pellegrini and Roca discussed at all. Economic analysis is weak. No class analysis of farm workers, other labor groups or even middle-class desires emerges until the final pages. Bonaudo also asserts that the UC and UCR sought to become "political alternatives," but they certainly wanted more than that. The author presents tax issues clearly and one learns that sales taxes shot up as high as 28 percent. Although good use is made of local newspapers, only one archival source is mentioned, the Roca collection, but no regional or local manuscripts were consulted in preparing this study.

In analyzing Mendoza from 1890 to 1912 , Joan Supplee describes an elite that became more repressive from 1902 to 1910 . She analyzes clearly how the wine industry became the mainstay of the Mendoza economy. Disputes with ranchers are interesting as well as outlined lucidly. Moreover, one learns that politics was complex. One governor changed his political alignment no less than 5 times in 25 months! Supplee provides a pinpoint delineation of the various leaders and their patronage systems, including the use of "wine police" in harassing those who did not follow the political script. She has made excellent use of provincial archives in Mendoza as well as national primary sources. [End Page 192]

Nicholas Biddle's discussion of Salta and the 1928 presidential campaign argues that Yrigoyen's campaign took shape and moved eastward--partially because of oilfields in Salta and Jujuy--but mainly as the result of a Radical reemphasis upon civil rights and political freedom. This is a very well-written study that is cogently argued. The struggle against the Salta conservatives is vivid and stimulating. Carl Solberg's thesis that oil was the dominant issue in 1928 is challenged, but Biddle is not completely convincing. Here Solberg still has the bull by the horns. Biddle is on firmer ground in questioning the assumption that the 1912 Sáenz Peña law started promoting democracy in the interior because that is the basis of his research. This piece has a nice historiographical perspective.

Marcelo Lagos describes the Jujuy sugar ingenios in a regional context and also provides an excellent analysis of Jujuy in terms of the economic aspects of sugar...


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pp. 192-194
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