Paraguay plays a very small role in the modern world, but for part of the nineteenth century it was a significant regional force. Between 1800 and 1865 it changed from an imperial backwater into a dynamic, dictator-led, financially sound nation. Then came the terrible War of the Triple Alliance, and by 1870 Paraguay had virtually been destroyed.
John Hoyt Williams re-creates the era’s people, places, and events in rich detail and a vigorous style, but this is much more than a mere narrative. His archival research in Paraguay and several other countries enables him to offer new facts and interpretations, correct a number of misapprehensions, and explode a few myths.
He also provides the clearest, most objective portraits available of the three extraordinary men who ruled Paraguay during this time: Dr. José Gaspar de Francia, “El Supremo”; Carlos Antonio López, “the Corpulent Despot”; and López’s flamboyant son Francisco Solano López. Discussions of social, economic, and cultural conditions round out a masterly account of a remarkable historical period.