The Prairies and the Pampas: Agrarian Policy in Canada and Argentina, 1880-1930

The Prairies and the Pampas: Agrarian Policy in Canada and Argentina, 1880-1930

The Prairies and the Pampas: Agrarian Policy in Canada and Argentina, 1880-1930

The Prairies and the Pampas: Agrarian Policy in Canada and Argentina, 1880-1930

Excerpt

Carl Solberg died on April 7, 1985, just weeks after he wrote the last words of this book. It stands as he wanted it: a well-developed comparative study that links his reputation as a leading historian of Argentina to a newer field for him, Canadian history. Aside from the copy-editing, this work is wholly Carl's--his third and best book.

Studies comparing Canada's historical development with Latin America are still rare, so this is both a path-breaking study with respect to the juxtaposition of themes and areas covered and a major contribution to the political economy of wheat, an important New World export crop. Drawing on his extensive research in Argentine and Canadian archives, Solberg sheds fresh light on several issues that are familiar to Canadianists and Argentinists, but have been treated in isolation. This book also explains why the Argentine wheat economy stagnated while the Canadian wheat economy rose to world leadership. Comparison brings the two cases into sharp focus, enabling Solberg to show how different state policies allowed two "new countries" with similar access to world wheat markets to produce such varying outcomes.

Canada outpaced Argentina, a country that had better natural conditions and a much shorter haul to port, to become the world's second-largest producer. Absent external market constraints on either nation, it was better public policy and a more responsive political system that enabled Canada to pull ahead. With his interest in political institutions and economic history, this interpretation suited Carl. He reached conclusions that are quite different from the dependency approach, which has been so influential, especially in Latin American studies. What gives force and power to his arguments is the judicious use of comparison.

The book is rich in leads for future research on topics of this sort. For example, it is abundantly clear that the neighbors of Canada and Argentina posed quite different challenges. To keep their prairies from being absorbed into the United States, the Canadians--who are known as the . . .

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