Book Review – Imperiofobia y leyenda negra

Imperiofobia y leyenda negra: Roma, Rusia, Estados Unidos y el Imperio español is a tremendous eye-opening book. I originally read this book during the Covid lockdowns two years ago, and now having re-read it again, I must say it’s a must read book to understand current world politics, by understand our history.

This book goes into deep detail regarding the common characteristics of empires but more importantly, on the difference between them. Like differences of imperialism vs imperial and of the different types of empires, ie what makes them good and bad.

The book covers many empires, from the Roman, Ottoman, French, British, Spanish, Russian, and USA empires. The most fascinating thing about this book is related to the rivalries between empires, hence the need to create a “black legend” against it. The most glaring being about the Spanish Empire. Which was the main reason why I decided to read this book, as it’s one of the books that I constantly see being mentioned among other fellow hispanists as a must read because it does a brilliant job debugging the “black legend” of the Spanish Empire. A “black legend”, being a series of arguments created by the Anglo Protestant world, whose main objective was (and still is) to demonstrate inferiority of the Hispanic and Catholic world. The author of this book, María Elvira Roca Barea does not hold any punches, she does a brilliant job calling out the complete bullshit created by Anglo/Germanic Protestant world against the Hispanic and general Latin world in order to justify their existence as newly reformed religious entities. It’s so blatant and obvious that it reminded me of a talk I saw of Dr. Guadalupe Jiménez Codinach regarding the blatant falsehoods she has to deal when working with US Universities regarding Hispanic history, of which she believes comes from the disdain that stems from the Spanish “black legend”.

To conclude this book also mentions the USA and Russian empires and the “black legend” among them, which is quite important to understand the current state of world politics, ie War in Ukraine. It’s absolutely fascinating to see the parallels between these two empires and how they’re both similar to the British and Spanish Empire respectively. Where for greater part of a century the British set the goal to fully balkanized the Spanish Empire in the Americas, is identical to the United States’ goal of balkanizing The Russian Federation into many distinctive petty states. Will history repeat itself? We only have to look back at history to understand.

Ironically, this is one of those books that I really hope one day gets an English translation. So people can learn about the “black legends” and histories of the worlds different empires, from a well researched academic scholar.