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Between Tyranny and Anarchy: A History of Democracy in Latin America, 1800-2006

Erika Gabriela Pani Bano
The Americas, Volume 67, Number 1, July 2010, pp. 132-133 (Review)

Published by The Academy of American Franciscan History DOI: 10.1353/tam.0.0288

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elections. The author chronicles the development of precocious and resilient constitutional and democratic trends in Latin America. xiii. such as persistent social inequalities and elite strategies or intervention from abroad and globalization. and judiciary powers. By Paul W. Drake. he has managed to tell the story of democracy in Latin America from independence to the present. 89). In other words. the separation of powers. offers valu- . $24. social. 1800-2006. as perhaps they must.132 REVIEWS excluded. He shows the ways in which even inoperative constitutions and fraudulent elections created an institutional path-dependency that has drawn the contours of politics despite recurrent bouts with authoritarianism and human rights abuses. KITTLESON Between Tyranny and Anarchy: A History of Democracy in Latin America. Its careful consideration of the intricate. Tables. unexpected ways in which political. ideological. Moreover. this book both draws a complex picture of a dense 200-year continental process and reveals the peculiar developments in each of the region’s 20 countries. or corporatism in the twentieth—have failed to account for democracy’s trajectory in the region. the organization and interaction of presidential. enhancing or restricting the effects of “institutional engineering” (p. In a little over 300 pages written in crisp prose. modernization. as intriguing as his context chapters are. political representation. These quibbles aside. In an analysis that aims at dismantling the pervasive image of Latin American history as a woeful tale of uninterrupted. He shows that despite the region’s poverty. His book highlights the efforts of divided and embattled elites to construct stable governments within a framework of constitutionalism. 87). backwardness and political instability.00 cloth. Map. Notes. Index. and oftentimes federalism. Paul W. dependency. Pp. Stanford: Stanford University Press. By focusing on the evolution of various institutional elements—constitutions. In its strong conceptual project—and even more in its thoughtful elaboration of that project—Woodard’s book is a welcome contribution to Latin American political history. “republicanism remained the dominant political aspiration and virtually the only intellectual justification for the right to rule” (p. they do not provide as much elementary information on the rise of the PRP and its baseline ideological positions as the non-specialist might need. $65. Massachusetts ROGER A. 330.95 paper. Williams College Williamstown. and diplomatic factors play off each other in particular circumstances. 190). His study is both meticulous and wide-ranging. the margins of his expanded political sphere remain ill-defined. 2009. monolithic authoritarianism. even when “most of the rest of the world had not even begun the journey” (p. and political parties—and by examining the way in which they responded to pressures from within and without. Drake has undertaken a daunting task. he suggests the reasons why general theories—Latin America’s “pathology of democracy” (p. legislative. A Place in Politics proposes a bold reassessment of early twentieth-century politics that will appeal to Brazilianists and non-Brazilianists alike. economic. 129) in the nineteenth century.

highly experimental. 2). What appears very clearly in Razo’s research is that the decisive moment for the emergence of “dictatorship” came around 1890. deeply problematic attempts at democratic governance. and “imported” (p. 2008. There is always a tendency to regard the establishment of “successful” dictatorships teleologically. $65. are left undisturbed. Razo’s answer is adequately summarized in the book’s title: through the social foundations of a limited dictatorship. the end result is less persuasive than the author’s stated objectives and the impressive array of evidence marshaled by the author would suggest. For the half century prior to Díaz’s regime. interdisciplinary. not a totalitarian state. It is a vision that can still be reduced to the pithy phrases of Latin America’s heroic and frustrated statesmen. characterized by a sort of stable equilibrium between Díaz and his potential rivals. Tables. a moment that coincided with the appearance of an economic surplus large enough to be distributed to cement the requisite political and social alliances. at least in terms of conventional measures of success. but is not quite convinced. In the end. every political career ends in failure. Democracy ends up being something that rolls over the continent. Figures. and institutions. in a sense. democracy. such as liberalism or Marxism. the provocative hypotheses put forth by recent studies of democracy as it was and not as scholars think it should have been. Index. and up-to-date bibliography. 246. dismal vision of Latin America creeps back in. The dictatorship was. such as tenure in office or the putative doubling in the real per capita growth of income. vibrant. They are manhandled by slightly confused elites who exhibit “only a vague understanding” (p. A rigid classification of 200 years of politics into two “competing models of protected versus popular democracy” (p. practices. 2) obscures the reader’s appreciation of the diverse. Notes. with its ubiquitous caudillos and its “extreme centralism” (p. and judicial review are described as “foreign” (p. El Colegio de México Mexico City. who ultimately became the beneficiaries of his economic policies as well. The details of this largess are of no . Although the book surveys a very extensive. Drake paints an overall picture in which the old. “exotic” (p. in subsequent “waves” (p. References. Drake’s vision of democracy in Latin America is that of a doubting Thomas who has seen. 60) of modern political concepts. Appendix. Despite the possibilities for dialogue. Nonetheless. it does not engage with it. Ideologies. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Díaz headed an authoritarian government. Pp. no predecessor even came close. Despite his skillful systematization of profuse and detailed information. of course. Armando Razo’s principal interest is how Porfirio Díaz came to be a successful dictator. 133). Mexico ERIKA GABRIELA PANI BANO Social Foundations of Limited Dictatorship: Networks and Private Protection During Mexico’s Early Industrialization. 201). xv.00 cloth. 78). By Armando Razo.REVIEWS 133 able insights to those concerned with constructing substantive and meaningful versions of democracy in the region. 56). and there was room for maneuver. although to paraphrase Enoch Powell.