A splendid social history of the South American continent extends its analyses to a knowledgeable interpretation of the Spanish character as well as the many other elements besides chance that went into the making of the new lands. A look at chapter subjects tells how Schurz has gone about his task: the environment, the Indian, the Spaniard, the conqueror, the Negro, the foreigner, the church, the woman, the city, and finally the Brazilian as representative of the largest single block of people. But in the chronological examinations of each topic, there are clear pictures of the other countries as separate entities, especially with regard to their famous personalities and the social traits that went into their making. Where the book falls down is in the realm of politics. Where there is a probing of the causes that led to the wars for independence, it is a by-product of the other material (fascinating enough in itself) and not a follow-through on the process of liberation and its bearing on South America today. Aside from that (and perhaps it was not intended to be that broad) the study is excitingly aware of the turn of colorful events. Not a ""popular"" history but definitely readable and of interest to laymen.