Title notwithstanding, this is an historical investigation of the social structures which were transferred almost wholesale, according to Glassman, from Spain to the New World. A good part of the book is devoted to thirteenth-and-fourteenth-century Spain: the reconquest of the Moslems, the Inquisition's successful diversion of urban discontent toward rich Jews instead of lords and kings; the crown's use of new overseas wealth to consolidate its power; and the consequent weakness of the internal economy. The analysis of New World land relationships reaches back to the structure of the American Indian empires whose conquest Glassman sees as an extension of the reconquest period in Spain. It extends through the early colonial period: Glassman is grandly vague about dates. The book represents the first intensive application of Max Weber's concepts to Latin America. Glassman wields this formidable equipment sensitively, readably, and very productively. His key concept of ""semi-feudalism"" will foment scholarly controversy -- his contrast with Northern European feudalism is problematic, and his distinctions between different kinds of manorial systems and city-country relationships remain highly general. The book makes an original and impressive contribution, at all events, toward refining a grasp of class alignments and expanding the terms of discourse in both European and Latin American history.