Routledge Author of the Month: Will Fowler

Routledge Language and Linguistics is delighted to announce that Will Fowler, author of  Latin America since 1780, is our December 2015 Author of the Month.


Will Fowler
is Professor of Spanish and Head of the School of Modern Languages at the University of St Andrews. He is the author of Mexico in the Age of Proposals, 1821-1853 (Westport, CT: 1998), Tornel and Santa Anna, The Writer and the Caudillo (Westport, CT: 2000), Santa Anna of Mexico (Lincoln, NE: 2007) (translated into Spanish as Santa Anna by the Universidad Veracruzana [2010; reprint 2011]), and Independent Mexico. The Pronunciamiento in the Age of Santa Anna, 1821-1858 (Lincoln, NE: 2016). He has published numerous articles and edited thirteen volumes on Mexican and Latin American political history. The new third edition of Latin America since 1780 is a revised, updated and extended version of the title Fowler originally brought out in 2002 as Latin America 1800-2000 (2nd edition, 2008).

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What made you decide to write this book?

By the time this book comes out nearly sixteen years will have passed since Elena Seymenliyska first visited me at the University of St Andrews and persuaded me to write a modern history of Latin America. It goes without saying that a lot has happened since I started writing the first edition of Latin America since 1780 (then tellingly entitled Latin America 1800-2000). Perhaps one of the most striking aspects to have changed over the last decade and a half is the way the world has come to view the region. For my generation, born in the 1960s, to think of Latin America was to think of dictatorships and revolutionary guerrillas, tortuous transitions to democracy, and heinous human rights abuses that went unpunished. Not surprisingly, the emphasis of the last chapter of the 1st edition revolved precisely around the struggle between dictatorship and democracy. And whilst many issues that date back to the last decades of the twentieth century such as the impunity enjoyed by those who were responsible for the genocides that took place in countries such as Guatemala remain burning issues to this day, it is equally true that the great majority of my students, born in the 1990s (soon to be the 2000s), have grown up knowing nothing other than a democratic Latin America (with the notable exception of Cuba). Therefore, for the Latin Americans of the twenty-first century, questions about authoritarian rule and revolutionary action have been replaced by others that are more concerned with the impact of globalisation, the growing economic role of China, the War on Drugs, increasing threats to the environment and the meaning of indigeneity in the 21st century. It should therefore come as no surprise that when Andrea Hartill at Routledge approached me in the autumn of 2014 to inquire whether I thought it was time I wrote a revised, updated, and expanded 3rd edition of this book I could not have agreed more.

What is the one thing you hope readers take away from this book?

The objective of Latin America since 1780 remains the same as it was in the first edition: to offer a clear narrative history of Latin America, broadly chronological in its approach, that will give students of Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American studies, as well as students of History, some idea of the main events that affected the continent over the last two hundred years. It does not assume any prior knowledge of the subject on the part of the reader. It is first and foremost an introduction to modern Latin American history. One of the aims of this book is to encourage students to read more on the subject, and to discover for themselves the more complex details of the history of Latin America.

Is there something you think it’s important to highlight about this topic?

That Latin America is as much a united and monolithic entity as Europe is. Or, to put it differently, Latin America is as much a heterogeneous, divided, fractured and plural construct as Europe is. In 1828, Henry George Ward, one of Britain’s first diplomats to write extensively about Mexico, noted that he had been “asked repeatedly, since [his] return to England, whether Captain Head’s description of the Pampas is correct, although Mexico is nineteen degrees North, and Buenos Ayres thirty-four degrees South of the line; while men well read, and well informed upon every other subject, have expressed surprise that, after a residence of three years in the Capital of New Spain, I should not be intimately acquainted with the state of parties in Lima and Santiago, Bolivia and Bogota.” Latin America remains intriguingly as much a forgotten and misunderstood region in Europe and the United States now as it was back in Ward’s day. In order to understand Latin America we need to engage with the fact that however similar some of the different countries’ historical contexts may appear, there was and is no such thing as one Latin America, but many different, contrasting, divided and, at times, even opposed Latin Americas, none of which is necessarily more representative than the others. In my book I have endeavoured to do justice to the extraordinary contrasts that have characterised the recent past of Latin America’s multiple, diverse and heterogeneous peoples and contexts.

Latin America since 1780: 3rd Edition

Latin America since 1780 provides an accessible introductory text aimed at Spanish linguists and historians taking modules in Latin American history. It provides a compelling continental-based historical narrative supported throughout by incisive evaluation, pedagogical features, and authentic source texts in the original Spanish.

This book focuses on key events such as the Wars of Independence, the Mexican, Cuban and Sandinista Revolutions, and the recent shift to the left, as well as providing short inserts on the main political protagonists such as Simon Bolívar, Getulio Vargas and Hugo Chávez.

The 3rd edition has been revised in line with crucial recent political, cultural and economic developments. It offers an entirely new chapter covering the key events and issues of the 21st century, fresh topics for essays and presentations, increased attention to literary, ethnic and social culture and a new e-resource offering English translations of Spanish sources.

New from Will Fowler

  • Latin America since 1780

    3rd Edition

    By Will Fowler

    Latin America since 1780 provides an accessible introductory text aimed at Spanish linguists and historians taking modules in Latin American history. It provides a compelling continental-based historical narrative supported throughout by incisive evaluation, pedagogical features, and authentic…

    Paperback – 2015-10-22
    Modern History for Modern Languages