German Arciniegas has recently written about the evolution of Latin American culture, and Harss and Dohmann did a brilliant study last year (Into the Mainstream) which centered around conversations with a number of contemporary Latin American writers. Franco amplifies these other works rather than supplants them; his work is as broad-based as Arciniegas', focusing more directly on the social role of the artist. He traces developmental phases and the more abrupt departures of cultural growth from the time of independence in the early 19th century to the young artists of today. The core of this compendious book is found in three chapters dealing with ""Art and the Political Struggle,"" ""The Writer as Conscience of his Country."" ""The Writer and the National Situation."" Paradoxically, Franco suggests that Latin America produces cultural serenity during politically violent times and artistic fauvisme in periods of national tranquility. For Yanqui readers barely aware that there is a Latin American culture beyond Carmen Miranda, this book lays out the entire story in a competent and expeditious manner, while raising crucial trans-geographic questions about art itself.