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Fully revised and updated, this unique single-volume survey provides complete and even more up-to-date coverage of the entire region during the critical era that saw the formation and consolidation of its distinctive national institutions, laying the groundwork for contemporary Latin America. Covering all the major countries, the new edition features a new treatment of Peru based on important recent research, important new material on elections in imperial Brazil and the Mexican economy in 1810-55, and a fully updated bibliography. The authors focus on the preliminary experiments in nation-building throughout Latin America and explore the conscious--if perhaps misguided--attempts by most leaders to adopt a liberal mode of both socioeconomic and political development. No pat answers are provided, but the nagging questions of Latin American instability and underdevelopment are examined, and the data and factors that come into play are presented and explained.