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The Spanish American Revolutions 1808-1826 (Revolutions in the Modern World) Paperback – 18 Mar 1987

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 2nd Revised edition edition (18 Mar. 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393955370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393955378
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 0.3 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 586,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ghostgrey51 TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 Aug. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My interests and knowledge of 19th Century history tended to the European and United States, having a feeling that my idea of history of South America being that Simon Bolivar appeared somewhere and urged the peasants to rise up and throw off the Spanish ruling classes might be lacking I was drawn to this book covering those revolutionary years and clear up my questionable version.
Very glad I made the choice.

This book, a work of the 1970s is both clear and brings a wealth of back ground detail. In addition to the narrative there are:

A list of Principal Personages,
Which whereas an interesting read in itself, is also vital to the newcomer to refer back as the information supplied in the narrative is quite formidable.

Glossary of Spanish Terms.
Important for the same reasons as in the Personages but also a valuable insight into the complexities of the various societies at work in that era.

Also a section entitled Bibliographical Essay.
This covers the source work and although naturally not containing works of the last 40 years, is worth a visit for those who might wish to consider the subject in more detail.

The book itself commences with the origins of Spanish American Nationality explaining the rise of the Crillo or Creole, being those of Spanish descent but born in America (incidentally the author is precise in this usage: we have got used to Americans as citizens of the USA; this is not subscribed to in South America, even today). As the hold of the Spanish mainland weakened over the centuries, a certain independence grew. When, the 19th Century Spain tried to re-assert control, coupled with growing social and economic pressures tensions grew.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
A great book about a not too well known episode 13 July 2005
By Felipe Perez - Published on
Format: Paperback
John Lynch wrote a classic in Spanish-American Revolutions 1808-1826. He masterfully describes all the events that led to the independence of Latin America from Spain. The book starts in Rio de La Plata and ends in Mexico and Central America. Curiously one can note a common pattern of highly stratified societies lead by Spanish officials and merchants in not complete harmony with the Creole ruling class. The reluctance of Spanish Monarchy (and later even of liberals) led to independence basically motivated for the economic and social interests of the Creoles (Spanish born in America). For all of those who are interested in a better understanding of Latin American societies of today this great book is a must. Lynch cleverly combines historical and economic facts about the Hispanic American societies looking for free trade and in such a way clashing with the status quo of monopolies imposed by the decaying metropolis. Two thumbs up!
Excellent Narrative and Overview; 4.5 Stars 3 Aug. 2013
By R. Albin - Published on
Format: Paperback
Published decades ago, this book remains an unusually fine narrative and overview of the great Spanish-American revolutions of the early 19th century. This is a relatively difficult topic for a survey volume given the regionally dispersed and frequently parallel events occurring across the whole Spanish Empire in the Western Hemisphere. Lynch's solution is to describe events regionally. He describes the events and course of the revolutions and ensuing civil wars in regions based roughly on political divisions within the Empire. His narrative opens with a set of chapters on events in the Rio de Plata, encompassing not only modern Argentina but also what became modern Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia. This is followed chapters on Chile, Peru (both modern Peru proper and Bolivia), Venezuela, Colombia (including modern Ecuador), a return to Peru for the conclusion of events in South America, and Mexico. These narrative sections are bookended by two analytic chapters, the first setting the background in Spanish-Colonial history for the revolutions, the final chapter a summation of the effects of the revolutions. Lynch's narrative structure results in some redundancy across individual chapters but the overall effect is very successful. A more chronological approach would require constant jumping from region to region, probably producing greater fragmentation of the narrative. In addition, the quality of writing in excellent, which significantly enhances the readability of this book.

Also enhancing the integrity of the narrative are Lynch's explicit and implicit pursuit of themes that run across all regions. Lynch demontrates that the revolutions were partly a response to reform efforts of the Spanish state invigorated by the Bourbon monarchs, particularly the reformist and capable Charles III. These reforms aimed at strengthing the Spanish state and Empire, enhancing central direction of the bureaucracy, increasing revenues from the colonies, and pursuing imperial mercantilism. Following a considerable period of a kind of benign neglect of the colonies by the monarchy, reform efforts were profoundly disturbing to the creole elites who had become used to dominating their regions. While Lynch doesn't mention this, there are clear parallels to what the British were trying to accomplish in North America and also by events in continental Europe. Another parallel is the role of Enlightenment ideas in discrediting the ancien regime. The Spanish reform project lost steam as Charles III was succeeded by the considerably less capable Charles IV and Ferdinand VII. The Bourbons did enough to alienate the native elites but not enough to ensure lasting metropolitan control. The collapse of the Spanish monarchy during the Napoleonic wars gave the increasingly self-confident creole elites the opportunity to break away from imperial control. A second major theme is Spanish intransigence and the role it played in alienating conservative creoles from the Empire. Given more intelligent leadership, it might have been possible to maintain the Empire in some form by granting a significant degree of autonomy to the creoles. In a particularly ironic development, Mexico was finally driven into independence when the Liberal revolution of 1820 threatened to undercut creole domination of Mexico.

Another major theme is the way the revolutions led to major and remarkably destructive civil wars throughout Spanish America. These were often conflicts within the creole elites driven by regional economic and political differences. In some colonies, notably Venezuela, Peru, and Mexico, the conflicts also involved social antagonisms between creole elites and subordinate Indian and slave groups. Lynch does very well in describing the often complicated events and the huge costs of the civil wars.

Lynch's final analytic chapter is a very nice summary of the ways that the revolutions fixed the social and political structure of Spanish America well into the 20th century. The successor states were nominally liberal and manty abolished the traditional inequalities of the ancien regime but the overall effect was to perpetuate highly unequal and oligarchic societies. Weak states were dominated by small elites based on landowning and seigneurial politics. The enormous economic destruction of the civils wars was followed by further decay of native proto-industries as increased international trade allowed economic domination by Britain and the USA. The militaries emerged from the civil wars as independent political forces and a source of chronic political, though not social, instablity. Its no wonder that Bolivar died in a state of despair.
It could not give you better information. At last you get a view of ... 17 April 2015
By irma dickinson - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It could not give you better information. At last you get a view of all the Revolutions in Spanish America - Commerce is magnificently explained. If you're interested in the subject, you must have it. IRMA DICKINSON
Revolution Book 2 Jan. 2014
By Marsha Varghese - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a nice book filled with useful information. I am using this book to help me with a research paper and I am finding it very useful!
8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
a very imformitive book, but lacks creativity 12 Jan. 2001
By Jamie Lynch - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book was a very well written and looks at every aspect of the revolution. If you want to learn and understand the latin american revolution, then this book will be a good read. But, if you are looking for a creative book that exhibits insightful opinions, then look farther than this book. This was a very well written, but was brought down by its lack of flavor.
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