This highly original and well-researched account of the Ecuadorian left in the mid-twentieth century relies on a largely untapped source base—documents and oral histories from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose agents placed suspected fascists and communists in Latin America under surveillance before, during, and after World War II.

Writing the social history of ordinary people and grassroots movements presents the well-known challenge that most of the enduring records about them are generated through their encounters with the state. Aside from marking moments such as birth, marriage, and death—along with the occasional tax, census, or property record—the most voluminous state archives are the observations contained in police files and court proceedings, which are an atypical and starkly framed representation of...

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