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This text offers a unique balance of comparative politics theory and interdisciplinary country-specific context, of a thematic organization and in-depth country case studies, of culture and economics, of scholarship and pedagogy. No other textbook draws on such a diverse range of scholarly literature to help students understand the ins and outs of politics in Latin America today. The insightful historical background in early chapters provides students with a way to think about how the past influences the present. However, while history plays a part in this text, comparative politics is the primary focus, explaining through detailed case studies and carefully paced analysis such concepts as democratic breakdown and transition, formal and informal institutions, the rule of law, and the impact of globalization. Concepts and theories from comparative politics are well integrated into country-specific narratives and vice versa, leading to a richer understanding of both. Several important pedagogical aids foster student learning: Learning objectives at the start of every chapter "Learning checkpoints" interspersed in chapters to ensure comprehension Bolded key terms focus attention on important concepts Glossary at the end of the book provides a useful reference Discussion questions at the end of each chapter Integrated case studies on most countries in the region A companion website with practice quizzes and other useful study aids.