by Robert L. Scheina
Dulles, Va.: Brassey’s, 2003. .
. $59.95 & $49.95. ISBN:1-57488-449-2
A valuable guide to the numerous wars, coups, insurgencies, rebellions, and similar events that have occurred in Latin America since the beginnings of the independence movements in the late eighteenth century. The introductions and conclusions to each volume outline some of the general causes of the conflicts and discuss some of the overall patterns. Each conflict – or group of related conflicts – is dealt with in a standardized fashion, providing background, opposing forces, and basic strategies, followed by an outline of events, often in some detail, and some general conclusions.
Despite the limitations of its size, Latin America’s Wars is surprisingly comprehensive, providing at least some coverage of many extremely obscure events in a region beset by military adventurism, particularly during the nineteenth century. There are some omissions, however; the U.S. naval expedition to Paraguay in the 1850s is missing, as is reference to a number of U.S. expeditions that prevented the independence of Panama from Colombia, until Theodore Roosevelt intervention in support of independence of Panama.
Although the treatment of the events tends to be even-handed, there are some dubious conclusions. For example, in his coverage of the Cuban Revolution of 1895-1898, Scheina, who has written several prior works on various aspects of Latin American history, overlooks the fact that securing U.S. intervention was a major goal of the rebels.
These are rather minor omissions, given the scope of the work, and, Latin America’s Wars is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the military history of the Americas.