by John Lynch
New Haven: Yale University, 2009. Pp. xvii, 265.
Illus, maps, notes, biblio., index. $35.00. ISBN:0300126433
The first English-language biography of the South American liberator in many years, San Martin: Argentine Soldier, American Hero, is a fine companion volume to the author's Simon Bolivar: A Life (2006).
The book opens with an unusually comprehensive account of San Martin's early life in Argentina and Spain, and his rather impressive career in the Spanish Army during the French Wars, which included a stint as a marine. It then takes him back to Argentina in 1812 to take part in the independence movement. The events of the next twelve years are told in great detail, as San Martin rose from a virtually unknown regimental commander to supreme commander of the Argentine forces, helping liberate Chile and then supporting the revolution in Peru, before he became the victim of complex revolutionary politics, leading to decades of exile.
Full of full of political machinations, some very good battle pieces, and a number of excellent personality profiles, all supported as necessary by careful analysis of the social, cultural, and political circumstances against which events unfolded, San Martin: Argentine Soldier, American Hero is certainly to be considered the standard biography of this extraordinary soldier.