The Oligarchy and the Old Regime in Latin America, 1880-1970 (Paperback)
  • The Oligarchy and the Old Regime in Latin America, 1880-1970 (Paperback)
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The Oligarchy and the Old Regime in Latin America, 1880-1970 (Paperback)

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Paperback 304 Pages / Published: 22/02/2017
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In the last decades of the nineteenth century and early years of the twentieth, a new class-the oligarchy-consolidated its wealth and political power in Latin America. Its members were the sugar planters, coffee growers, cattle barons, and bankers who were growing rich in a rapidly expanding global economy. Examining these immensely powerful groups, Dennis Gilbert provides a systematic comparative history of the rise and ultimate demise of the oligarchies that dominated Latin America for nearly a century. He then sketches a fine-grained portrait of three prominent Peruvian families, providing a vivid window into the everyday exercise of power. Here we see the oligarchs arranging the deportation of "political undesirables," controlling labor through means subtle and brutal, orchestrating press campaigns, extending credit on easy terms to rising military officers, and financing the overthrow of an unfriendly government. Gilbert concludes by answering three questions: What were the sources of oligarchic power? What were the forces that undermined it? Why did oligarchies persist longer in some countries than in others? His clear, comprehensible, and illuminating analysis will make this an invaluable book for all students of modern Latin America.

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9781442270909
Number of pages: 304
Weight: 422 g
Dimensions: 230 x 150 x 18 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Gilbert's account of this central story of Latin American politics between the late nineteenth century and the 1960s is level-headed, clearly written and organized, and reliable in its details. . . [his] study offers a good introduction to the social and political history of the oligarchy for undergraduate and graduate students, and presents interesting tools for analyzing the rise and fall of oligarchic politics in Latin America. * American Historical Review *
Recent work on Latin America has de-emphasized the elite in favor of better understanding those who struggle for power and access to resources. Sociologist Gilbert, however, provides a long-missing and essential picture of the oligarchy by examining how the most powerful gained, held, and then lost control of the economy and politics over a century. Part I provides a general overview of oligarchic power and cohesion as well as details about the workings of the oligarchy in Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Chile, and Argentina. Part II is a more extensive analysis of three families in the Peruvian oligarchy: the Aspillaga, Prado, and Miro Quesada clans. This book is especially valuable because it uses concrete examples and explains how the elite develop and maintain a cohesive collective identity, a topic rarely detailed in other work. Gilbert also examines the 'contested republic,' when the oligarchy's focus on the export sector of the economy ultimately gave rise to new forces-the middle classes, the working class, urban dwellers, and professionalized militaries-that challenged oligarchic power and led to its ultimate demise after the mid-20th century. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. * CHOICE *
Gilbert's clear prose and detailed account of Peruvian oligarchs will attract the attention of students of Latin America. Of particular interest are the sections in which the author masterfully writes about the social world of the oligarchs since infancy to late adulthood. Labor historians of the Americas will find many similarities with respect to the shady managerial practices of these wealthy men. Anti-union policies, violence, and corruption characterized them all. Political scientists interested in the first years of APRA and its later conversion to a less radical party will also find Gilbert's book useful. * Hispanic American Historical Review *
"There is virtually no careful sociological-historical analysis on the inner workings of the ruling oligarchy or the oligarchical state that played such a dominant role in Latin America in much of the twentieth century. Gilbert's comparative study across five countries is an impressively researched and probing, fine-grained analysis of the phenomenon that fills this void and will stand as the standard for some time to come." -- Peter Klaren, George Washington University
In The Oligarchy and the Old Regime in Latin America, 1880-1970, Dennis Gilbert has built upon a distinguished career studying class formation and elite economic and political practice in modern Spanish America. Here he incorporates a broad comparative framework embracing Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Peru, combining micro-social and macro-social perspectives, giving us an illuminating picture of elite family networks over a century. -- Eric Van Young, University of California San Diego
In this engaging political and sociological history, Dennis Gilbert recounts the rise, reign, and ultimate decline of five Latin American oligarchies-the landed elites that dominated society and government from the late-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. Each case has its peculiarities, but they follow a common trajectory: the rise to dominance followed by decline when powerful new actors from the emerging middle and lower classes arose to challenge the oligarchic order. Gilbert combines this broad sweep of history with a deep dive into the case of Peru, where his access to elite family correspondence and interviews with key figures opens a revealing window into the oligarchs' world and worldview, their feuds, and their response to political challenge. A must read for students of Latin American history, politics, and sociology. -- William LeoGrande, American University

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