The Americas 61.2 (2004) 261-262
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Prior to its demise, Scholarly Resources provided a great service by filling the great void of teaching materials for Latin American history. Along with the Human Tradition series, SR offered us one of the few "problems" readers in the field. Chasteen and Wood's revised edition of their reader is a welcome continuation of the SR tradition. With thirteen topical chapters, the reader is well designed for the modern survey. Readings have a traditional history tendency. Many selections focus on political and economic themes dating prior to the "new" social and cultural history. The overall format is student friendly. Each chapter has a short introductory essay, which establishes the key ideas, problems, and issues for the topic under evaluation. These [End Page 261] are followed by short questions that frame the chapter's selection of readings. These often prompt students to consider differing historical interpretations presented in the readings. The chapter on caudillos, for example, shows the evolution of scholarship from frames prejudiced by racism to "objective" social science analysis, to analysis informed by political culture. Each reading has a concise introductory paragraph that succeeds in providing context and analysis. Secondary sources are excerpts, edited with care, from longer tracts. The book also features five "Reading Images" sections. These provide pictures as primary sources for students to analyze.
There are some limitations. Black and white print restricts the impact of the "Reading Images" selections. The authors prefer secondary sources. The independence chapter, for example, has one primary document. The book also lacks maps. Finally, despite efforts at bringing culture into the selections, the reader retains a traditional historical approach. Still, in the end these problems are minor.
Glen D. Kuecker