Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1811-1888) was Argentina's leading writer, educator, and politician of the nineteenth century, and served as President from 1868 to 1874. Of his several autobiographies, the best-known Recollections of a Provincial Past is one of the indisputable classics of SpanishAmerican literature, as well as one of the earliest autobiographies written in the Americas in Spanish. Written in exile in 1850, the memoirs describe his childhood and adolescence in an Andean province whose customs were still those of a colony. Sarmiento presents his life as the triumph ofcivilization over barbarism; looking back on his youth, he measures his wealth and strength by the accumulation of enriching personal and political experiences. He compares himself to the newly independent Argentina, claiming to be a historically representative individual whose trajectory serves toilluminate contemporary South America.