Latin American Political History

Patterns and Personalities


Ronald Schneider

First Edition • July 1, 2006 • 704 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813343419 • $59.00 USD$63.99 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780786735990 • $36.99 USD$42.99 CAN

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This authoritative study, at once historical and comparative, closely examines Latin America’s struggles to establish viable participatory political systems, from the colonial epoch to today.

To confront the difficulty in understanding the profound heterogeneity of the world’s most challenging political laboratory, Latin American Political History adopts a weighted approach that devotes detailed attention to the political developmental experiences of selected “core” countries: Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia — together representing three-quarters of the region’s population — while also considering the “second tier” countries (Peru, Venezuela, and Chile). The remaining South American countries (Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay) also receive systematic treatment, as do Central America (Guatemala, Costa, Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras) and the Caribbean.

Latin America’s political history since 1870 is addressed in chapters that cover about a quarter-century each, using a standardized organization across chapters to facilitate both the study of a given country through time and the comparison of countries at particular historical junctures. The roles of leading political personalities are highlighted throughout and major patterns of political development are analyzed in the concluding chapters.

Latin American Political History is an invaluable single-volume textbook for courses in Latin American history, politics, and government.


Ronald M. Schneider is emeritus professor of political science at Queens College, CUNY. He is the author of Brazil: Culture and Politics in a New Industrial Powerhouse (1996). He has also published several analyses of Brazilian elections through the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC.

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“Comprehensive in its coverage of all of Latin America, even including the non-Iberian Caribbean; moreover, it carries this comprehensive coverage back to the historical beginnings. It is a high quality book.”
— John Peeler, Professor of Political Science, Bucknell University

To understand where Latin America is going, one must know where the region is coming from. Ronald Schneider’s sweeping overview of the political history of Latin America provides the very big picture. It especially emphasizes Brazil and Mexico, Latin America’s most important countries, with additional attention to Argentina, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela. Schnieder’s expertly selective rather than encyclopedic approach keeps its eye on the forest without losing the most important trees. This is a grand and valuable addition to the field.
— John A. Booth, Regents Professor of Political Science, University of North Texas

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