Nine Latin American nations (Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil) provide points of departure for reflections by a British writer who spent ""some months there"" on assignment for Encounter. Mostly his thoughts dwell on that nebulous unknown, national or racial character, on which so much ink has already been spilled by indigenous Latin American commentators like Sarmiento and Freyre. The author rehashes the classic ruminations on the distinctions between criollo and indio, hispanico and mestizo, Latin individualismo and Negro tropicalismo, adding further crosscultural forays: Lima's emotions are ""Moorish""; the Luso-Brazilian mentality is like the Austrian, etc. Alongside such lush generalizations, little on current realities: nothing on economics, or the American investor, or recent politics, save for a few notes on the basic conservatism of south-of-the-border society, and on the shallowness of its marxisant intelligentsia. Since Mander is not one to let go of an idea once grasped (""Realistically...Macchu Picchu is neither the world's navel...Macchu Picchu is not the world's navel"") or to part company with the obvious (""Peru is not Ecuador; Uraguay is not Paraguay"") the book is redundant as well as uninformative.