This book offers an innovative, thematic approach to the history of Latin America since independence. It traces continuity and change in colonial legacies that became central political issues following independence: authoritarian governance; a rigid social hierarchy based on race, color, and gender; the powerful Roman Catholic Church; economic dependency; and the large landed estate. Generally, liberals have sought to modify or abolish these legacies in the interest of what they consider progress, while conservatives have attempted to preserve them as much as possible as bastions of their power and privilege. Examining the evolution of these colonial legacies across two centuries reveals the processes that formed the political systems, economies, societies, and religious institutions that characterize Latin America today.
Thomas C. Wright is distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Robert L. Smale is associate professor of history at the University of Missouri.
Map of Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean
Map of South America
Part I: Colonial Roots
1Origins of the Colonial Legacies
Part II: Independence and Its Challenges, 1790s–1870s
2The Independence of Latin America
3The Age of Caudillos
Reflections on the Colonial Legacies, 1790s–1870s
Part III: Exports, Oligarchies, and Yankees, 1870s–1930
4The Export Economies
5Political Consolidation and Social Change
6Rise of the Yankee
Reflections on the Colonial Legacies, 1870s–1930
Part IV: Revolution, Depression, and Cold War, 1930–1959
7The Mexican Revolution
8Depression, Political Change, and Cold War
Reflections on the Colonial Legacies, 1930–1959
Part V: Revolution and Reaction, 1959–2000
9The Cuban Revolution
10 The Cuban Revolution, Latin America, and the United States
11 Repression, State Terrorism, and Neoliberalism
Reflections on the Colonial Legacies, 1959–2000
Part VI: Contemporary Latin America, 2000–Present
12 The Colonial Legacies in the Twenty-First Century
Reflections on the Colonial Legacies, 2000–Present
Conclusion: Colonial Legacies and Today’s Latin America
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Thomas C. Wright and Robert L. Smale have written an engaging, intelligent, and valuable history of modern Latin America that will benefit students and specialists alike. Latin American since Independence places the region in a global context but also captures its great diversity and dynamism.
Exploring continuity and change in key institutions and practices of Latin America’s colonial past, Wright and Smale skillfully blend the influence of international and regional politics with the idiosyncrasies of national development after 1810. The text provides a highly readable introduction to Latin American political, social, and economic history from the Spanish and Portuguese conquests and settlement in the Western Hemisphere into the first decades of the twenty-first century.
This book offers a balanced blend of perspectives sustained by thoughtful recognition of the diversity of the experiences of the peoples of Latin America addressed within the context of a shared history. The proposition of continuity and change is expertly deployed as an imaginative framework for a commanding history of Latin America.