Between Legitimacy and Violence

A History of Colombia, 1875–2002

Between Legitimacy and Violence

Latin America in Translation/En Traducción/Em Tradução

More about this series

Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: 7 tables Published: June 2006

Author: Marco Palacios

Translator: Richard Stoller

History > Latin American History, Latin American Studies > Andes

Between Legitimacy and Violence is an authoritative, sweeping history of Colombia’s “long twentieth century,” from the tumultuous civil wars of the late nineteenth century to the drug wars of the late twentieth. Marco Palacios, a leading Latin American historian, skillfully blends political, economic, social, and cultural history. In an expansive chronological narrative full of vivid detail, he explains Colombia’s political history, discussing key leaders, laws, parties, and ideologies; corruption and inefficiency; and the paradoxical nature of government institutions, which, while stable and enduring, are unable to prevent frequent and extreme outbursts of violence. Palacios traces the trajectory of the economy, addressing agriculture (particularly the economic significance of coffee), the development of a communication and transportation infrastructure, industrialization, and labor struggles. Palacios also gives extensive attention to persistent social inequalities, the role of the Catholic Church, demographic shifts such as urbanization and emigration, and Colombia’s relationship with the United States. Offering a comparative perspective, he frequently contrasts Colombia with other Latin American nations. Throughout, Palacios offers a helpful interpretive framework, connecting developments with their causes and consequences. By thoroughly illuminating Colombia’s past, Between Legitimacy and Violence sheds much-needed light on the country’s violent present.


“[A] fact-filled and insightful meditation on one of the most important, albeit still-mysterious, countries of the region . . . . [T]his book merits reading for its comprehensive and perceptive grasp of a complex history, one that helps us understand Colombia today.” — Pamela Murray, The Americas

“Engenders a sympathetic, or at least more insightful, understanding of the nation’s present difficulties, in a manner comprehensible to the general reader and with a richness and detail that may make it the best available single-volume history of the country.” — Hugh Gildea, Virginia Quarterly Review

“A skillful historian, Palacios gives the public a sharp, broad and yet very complete view of Colombia’s twentieth-century history . . . . Students of Latin American studies will benefit greatly from this valuable account of Colombia’s history. Anyone interested in Colombia and its history will find this a most valuable and complete history guide. The author is an authority in the field and his own life experiences have permitted him to step outside the turmoil and violence of Colombia to produce a book that gives an intellectual, organized, and logical order to its turbulent history.” — Debora Cordeiro-Rosa, The Latin Americanist

“Marco Palacios’ account of Colombian history is a must-read for historians, economists, political scientists, and geographers. It is an intricately woven story that highlights the complexities of Colombian history. . . . A rich interpretation of Colombian history is presented with the expressed intent of revealing how the past affects current thinking and events.” — Sheila Amin Gutiérrez de Piñeres, EIAL

“Palacios has packed a huge amount of historical data into this very palatable work. He provides his readers with insight into the root causes of Colombia’s violent past and connects those causes to its current instability.” — MAJ Douglas C. Judice, Military Review

“Palacios offers a lucid, absorbing, and deftly argued account of Colombia’s recent history, including the persistent, recurrent cycles of armed conflict there. Between Legitimacy and Violence fully deserves a wide audience of historians, political scientists, and journalists seeking a primer on the history that underpins Colombia’s still-chaotic politics.” — G.B. Paquette, Canadian Journal of History

“Palacios should be applauded for his insightful scholarship and Duke University Press for its commitment to make Latin American scholarship available to English speaking readers.” — Michael R. Hall, Journal of Third World Studies

“This is a very well written and informative book.” — Daniel H. Levine, Catholic Historical Review

“This study written by one of Colombia’s most respected historians is an insightful, in-depth assessment of the country’s last 125 years. . . . Highly recommended.” — J. Rosenthal, Choice

praise for the Spanish edition:
“Coverage is admirably comprehensive, with a very good balance between social and economic trends and political events, plus side glances at intellectual and cultural history. . . . Even the complete novice will profit from the reading and will come away with a grasp of the main storylines. . . . Palacios has ably exposed the historical roots of current problems.” — David Bushnell, Hispanic American Historical Review

“Marco Palacios’s comprehensive, skilled narration of Colombia’s turbulent ‘long twentieth century’ is the best one-volume history of that country we have. There is nothing else available in English that provides even a shadow of the complexity and completeness of Palacios’s book.” — Ann Farnsworth-Alvear, author of Dulcinea in the Factory


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Marco Palacios is Professor of Latin American History at El Colegio de México in Mexico City. He is the author of numerous books in Spanish as well as Coffee in Colombia, 1850–1970: An Economic, Social, and Political History. He is a coauthor of Colombia: Fragmented Land, Divided Society.

Richard Stoller is Coordinator of Selection and International Programs in Schreyer Honors College at Penn State University. He has a Ph.D. in Latin American studies.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Tables viii

Acknowledgments ix

Prologue to the Second Colombian Edition xi

1. From Liberal Decay to Regeneration 1

2. Liberal Economics, Conservative Politics 48

3. From the Expansion of Citizenship to the Plutocratic Elite 93

4. In the Shadow of the Violencia 135

5. An Elusive Legitimacy 170

6. Great Transformations within Continuity 214

Epilogue 246

Bibliographical Essay 269

Index 293
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3767-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3754-6
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