Between the coming of the conquistadores and the growth of the nineteenth century independence movements, Latin America developed its own complicated caste system. This hierarchy of Indians and Negroes, mestizos and mulattos, criollos and peninsulares proved very difficult to rule; Spanish vice-toys were dependent on the good will of the local councils (cabildos), and Spain's attempts to protect the Indian population through the encomienda system were unsuccessful. In addition, the riches of the new world ruined Spain's economy while encouraging smuggling among the colonists. Though a greater use of source materials or more details about everyday life might have made his account livelier, Fisher does give a succinct survey of the political and economic developments which characterized the colonial period. Contemporary prints and illustrations make this less textbookish in appearance than some of its companions in the Young Historians series.