This book details the processes of democratization in Latin America today. Smith looks at some of the key issues that inhere in the move toward democracy - elections, culture, representation, poverty, and criminality, among others - through a focus on six paradigmatic "case studies" in the region: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Examining factors such as history, the economy, and individual societies, Smith analyzes what is new and different about the current phase of democracy in the region. Accompanying the text are numerous photographs, maps, tables, figures to aid his analysis. There is particular attention to providing extensive empirical data necessary to convey basic information and analysis. To enhance readability, boxed material is diffused throughout the text, presenting illustrative anecdotes, explantions of methodology, and comments on perceptual approaches. Peter Smith is a highly respected scholar, Director of Latin American Studies at the University of California at San Diego.
His Talons of the Eagle focuses on the relationship between Latin America and the United States, and he is the co-author of the seminal contemporary history of the region, Modern Latin America. Both of these titles are published by OUP, and both have gone through multiple editions. This book fits neatly into the Latin American studies course market.