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Hispanismo, 1898-1936: Spanish Conservatives and Liberals and their Relations

This book review of Hispanismo, 1898-1936: Spanish Conservatives and Liberals and their Relations with Spanish America, by Frederick B. Pike, is mainly about as the title suggests, Hispanismo. Hispanismo or often called Hispanoamericanism and/or Pan Hispanismo is a trend of Latin American cultures that is quite simply in the most basic terms the “shared . . . unassailable faith in the existence of a transatlantic Hispanic family, community, or raza (race)” Many Central and Latin American countries for years feared the influence of Spain in heir lives with the United States posing little threat and being often helpful.

This all changed with the downfall of the Spanish Empire, in the 1800s, weakening the menace to its former colonies and the final crushing loss of the Spanish-American War in 1898. But after this turning mark year, the United Sates posed more of an imperialistic threat to its southern neighbors than weakened Spain. With a new threat to the North, the new world countries regained their ties to the “mother country”. Activists in a new movement saw Spain and Latin countries of the Southern Hemisphere as sharing common values, beliefs, and characteristics.

This book, describing the subsequent ties to Spain, is important to my study of Latin America’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War and in this review I will analyze this work to determine its value as a source. Hispanismo, 1898-1936: Spanish Conservatives and Liberals and their Relations with Spanish America, part of the International Studies of the Committee on International Relation Series of Notre Dame, deals with the rise of the Hispanismo movements in Latin America from 1898 up to 1936, the turning point n Latin America’s/Spain’s relations.

Pike deals with the perspectives of the Hispanismo movement and the people’s attitude toward Spain on the eve of the Spanish Civil War. Analyzing the reasoning behind their attitude and their subsequent return to Spanish values, the author’s central theme seems to be that people of Latin America have always had some need or underlying desire to have an element of Spanish culture and direction in their lives on many levels.

The author argues this theme well in a clear concise way thereby providing enough logical evidence to support the thesis that “(there has always been) . a conscious effort of Spaniards and Spanish Americans to establish close spiritual, and sometimes also economic and political ties, often with the specific purpose of bulwarking the prevailing social system throughout the Hispanic world. ” The thirteen chapters of this book provide more than adequate evidence to support this trend and Pike takes his argument one step further by addressing in the last chapter both the strength and weaknesses of his thesis, thereby leaving no issue untouched which in the end does more to bolster his thesis into a solid logical one

Frederick B. Pike, professor of history at Notre Dame (now retired) has published numerous books in a long career in Latin American history. Certainly not an antiquestrian the author is a serious Latin Americanist and this is clearly shown by his knowledgeable writing in this book. Tackling a complex and broad subject such as Hispanismo seems not to be an easy task with many different parties and factors going into each side’s issues, and there are both many sides and many issues, but the author seems to pull this off extremely well without confusing the eader unduly.

Pike accomplishes this by giving the reader an adequate background of both Spanish America and Spain before simply jumping headfirst and blind into his argument. The author seems to have no unneeded biases of arguing unduly the merits of only one side even though he focuses mainly on Central and Latin American conservatives, taking no liberties or straying from the issues by getting on his soapbox. Even though this work is confined to a time span of forty years, this book and the issues it addresses seems, as mentioned before, a complicated subject. As sources, Pike used primarily published material of books, periodicals, and newspapers.

I found Frederick B. Pike to be humble in his argument throughout his entire work. Certainly one of the best in his field, and even with receiving the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and a “generous grant” from Notre Dame University, to write this book, Pikes writing does not reflect an air of condensation or superiority whatsoever. As throughout the entire text, the author states in the preface that he considered that not enough primary sources, mainly newspapers were not used. However, I found this not to take anything away from his writing with an adequate number of primary source to both support his argument and addresses its weaknesses.

The main focus of this work was to address the complex relationship of Hispanismo between Spanish America and Spain with looking at how Central and Latin American countries saw their relationship and/or their “madre piaz” or mother country. I feel that this book is major contribution toward the field of Latin American studies. Pike clearly accomplishes his objectives and provides a logical ell-researched argument of a Spanish American/Spanish interdependence which sheds light on my subject of Latin America’s involvement with Spain during its turbulent civil war.

This book addresses important social issues that both Spain and Latin America faced at the same time. In my focus of study, this work provides the foundation for the understanding of the subject as a whole. This book is definitely a good source with its strongest points being that it is well written and addressed its own weaknesses thereby making it invaluable to the field of Latin American history and my subject of study.

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