Between Legitimacy and Violence A History of Colombia, 1875-2002By Marco Palacios
Between Legitimacy and Violence is an authoritative, sweeping history of Colombia's "long twentieth century," from the tumultuous civil wars of the late nineteenth century to the drug wars of the late twentieth. Marco Palacios, a leading Latin American historian, skillfully blends political, economic, social, and cultural history. In an expansive chronological narrative full of vivid detail, he explains Colombia's political history, discussing key leaders, laws, parties, and ideologies; corruption and inefficiency; and the paradoxical nature of government institutions, which, while stable and enduring, are unable to prevent frequent and extreme outbursts of violence. Palacios traces the trajectory of the economy, addressing agriculture (particularly the economic significance of coffee), the development of a communication and transportation infrastructure, industrialization, and labor struggles. Palacios also gives extensive attention to persistent social inequalities, the role of the Catholic Church, demographic shifts such as urbanization and emigration, and Colombia's relationship with the United States. Offering a comparative perspective, he frequently contrasts Colombia with other Latin American nations. Throughout, Palacios offers a helpful interpretive framework, connecting developments with their causes and consequences. By thoroughly illuminating Colombia's past, Between Legitimacy and Violence sheds much-needed light on the country's violent present.