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The History of Argentina Paperback – Oct 15 2003
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About the Author
Daniel K. Lewis is Associate Professor of History at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona.
Top Customer Reviews
Economically, the history of Argentina is an excellent natural experiment to test the influence of systems of political and economic organization on development. From a resource point of view, Argentina began the 20th century with every opportunity that was available to Canada, but ended it desperately behind. Years of dictatorial change, "rule of law" instability and personal fear were the culprits. But don't expect this type of top-down insight from the author; this is a purely sequential and fact-based history. It also contains several unfortunately unedited spelling, organizational and other (east vs. west, for example) mistakes.
If you're looking for a quick summary of Argentinian history focusing at first on economic and geopolitical change, and more recently (post WWII) on internal political change (with - from my point of a view - a huge missed opportunity for an analysis of monetary economics) this book does a good job. If you're looking to gain a real understanding of Argentinian history derived from thoughtful analysis of in-depth history, look elsewhere.
I enjoyed the book and would have bought it again with perfect foreknowledge. But it is no work of art.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.