This book should clarify most laymen's hazy conceptions of Latin America as has no other book comparable in scope and achievement. Not only is it lively history, but it defines these ethnic, geographic and historic differences that makes a single perspective impossible, without confusing the sharp individuality of each of the Latin American countries or overlooking the common spirit that infuses their cultural backgrounds. Primitive history comes alive; the period of the conquistadors makes colorful, dramatic reading; three centuries of colonialism, with colonial economy and attitudes surviving liberation from Spanish suzerainty, and even today, the victory of democracy nowhere secure, explain much that is -- to us- obscure and unsympathetic. Skilled selection from an evident storehouse of knowledge and understanding have brought into focus the pattern of changing civilizations, interrelations of the feudal pattern and elements of Colonial society, varying influences of Church, State, national cultures, folk cultures. A rich canvas, enlivened with vigorous narrative, revealing biography, objective weighing of the factors that have made for trouble in inter-American relations, emphasis on our mutual contributions, combine to make this an important book-today and tomorrow.