Born into a humble family, Sarmiento became president of the Argentine republic in 1868. He was a driving force in the effort to Europeanize Argentina and in the struggle against the rural power elite. His reputation in literature is based on Civilization and Barbarism: Life of Juan Facundo Quiroga (1845), a combination of essay and history that often approaches the novel in its handling of imaginative narrative. Demonstrating the barbaric actions of both Juan Manuel de Rosas, the dictatorial governor of Argentina, and the gaucho Facundo in Tiger of the Pampas (o.p.), Sarmiento advocated the civilizing influences of education and economic progress. His ambivalent feelings and romantic view of the gaucho led him to create a mythical character rather than a historical figure. The narratives and sketches in Travels (1849) have been described as "a virtual novel" (Anderson Imbert) for their imaginative quality.