As the author of this short book shows, perhaps without intending to, if there was any country in the history of the world that illustrates best the effects of narrow-sighted interest groups, economic turmoil, and governmental brutality, it has to be Argentina. The people of Argentina have had no respite in the last two hundred years from both the vicissitudes of the market place and the coercion of their governments. Just when things seem to be looking up in terms of both economic and social stability, some military coup or financial disaster erases the short-lived equilibrium of Argentine society. After finishing the book, one can't help but admire the stamina of the Argentine people, and one wonders what the future holds for this country that had its origins of course in the Spanish expeditions of the early sixteenth century.
Those readers, such as this reviewer, who are interested in the history of Argentina but don't have the time to read a major treatise on the subject will find this book helpful. The author gives a timeline of historical events at the beginning of the book, and some references are included for readers who want to move on to more detailed treatments. It would be difficult of course to verify the author's historical narrative without more in-depth study, so the contents of the book should be taken as tentative.
There are many interesting facts that are detailed by the author, particularly the role that the United States and the International Monetary Fund played in perturbing Argentine society. In addition, one can understand the effects of the two world wars on the Argentine economy, especially the role of the Marshall Plan, which almost decimated Argentina's beef industry. It also gives a more nuanced view of Evita Peron without the excess of veneration that is usually paid to this woman by Hollywood and the American press. And of course her husband's role in Argentine politics is still being felt today, despite its checkered history of violence and brutality. "Peronism" as the author calls it, was actually banned from participation in elections for quite some time, but this caused even more volatility for Argentine politics. The prevention of certain groups in the participation of governance seems to only increase their level of determination.
If there are any lessons to be learned from this book it is that attempts by governments to bring "social harmony" to the societies over which they rule are problematic and rarely succeed. Labor unions, governmental decrees, international money markets, and private business are all entangled with each other, and any strong events in one of these sectors has ramifications in the others. It has been difficult for all societies to realize this fact, and Argentina is even a more pronounced example. Economic decimation, or even the reflection of its possibility seems to encourage governmental interference, even though history is full of examples where this interference exacerbated the problem, sometimes, as was the case for Argentina, leading to extreme violence or even murder. The "Dirty War" that the author discusses in this book, which is correctly described as being state terrorism, is a dreadful example of how the Argentine government completely lost any notion of decency or restraint. Some of the individuals responsible for these actions have been brought to justice, but others that did are unfortunately still free. Hopefully, the citizens of Argentina will not forget these events, and never forgive the criminals who participated in them.