Leslie Michael Bethell (born 12 February 1937) is an English historian, university professor, and Brazilianist who specialises in the study of 19th and 20th Century Latin America, focusing on Brazil in particular. He received both his Bachelor of Arts and Doctorate in History at the University of London. Bethell has served as Visiting Professor at the University Research Institute of Rio de Janeiro at the Universidade Cândido Mendes, the University of California, San Diego, and at the University of Chicago. He has been associated with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, most recently being appointed Senior Scholar of their Brazil Institute, since 1987. He was the founding director of the Centre for Brazilian Studies at the University of Oxford, serving in that capacity from 1998 to 2007. He has also held lengthy academic posts at St Antony's College (as a Fellow) and at his alma mater, the University of London (as Director of the Institute of Latin American Studies and an Honorary Research Fellow).
He is the sole editor of the eleven volume Cambridge History of Latin America, a massive attempt at compiling and integrating the existing scholarship of Latin American studies. The entire project took more than fifteen years to be completed. The work was praised widely, with the historian Paul Gootenberg noting that the series had "earned rave scholarly reviews throughout the 1990s". The Library Journal referred to the first two volumes of the series as "the most detailed, comprehensive, and authoritative work on the subject available", while the political scientist Paul W. Drake called various volumes in the set "landmark[s] in their field." Reviews were not completely positive, however, with some of the volumes being described as "unwieldy" and skewed too much to the present age. Alternately, the series has also been criticised for its lack of coverage of issues whose impacts have extended into contemporary times and of the trends that had been emerging in Latin America around the time of its various publication dates.
Bethell was elected a sócio correspondente of the Brazilian Academy of Letters in 2010. He was nominated to fill the vacancy left by the death of the Portuguese author José Saramago, and was only the second English person to have been elected to the position, after the philosopher Herbert Spencer. Bethell was also elected as a correspondent to the Brazilian Academy of Sciences in 2004.
- The Abolition of the Brazilian Slave Trade: Britain, Brazil and the Slave Trade Question (New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1970)
- The Cambridge History of Latin America (published originally from 1986 to 1995), essays from this work have been repeatedly repackaged in a multitude of forms put out by the Cambridge University Press.
- The Paraguayan War (1864-1870) (London: Inst. of Latin American Studies, 1996)
- Brazil by British and Irish Authors (Oxford:Centre for Brazilian Studies, 2003)
- "St. Antony's College Record-2003".St Antony's College Website. Retrieved on March 31, 2011.
- "Brazil Institute-Leslie Bethell". Woodrow Wilson Center Website. Retrieved on March 31, 2011.
- "Leslie Bethell Elected to the Academia Brasileira de Letras". Brazilian Studies Programme Page, University of Oxford Website. Retrieved on April 3, 2011.
- "Professor James Dunkerley - Interview Transcript" (March 13, 2008). Institute of Historical Research, University of London Website. Retrieved on April 4, 2011. "Leslie Bethell was in the traditional Parry Centres, he was the director of this institute between 1987 and 1992..."
- "The Cambridge History of Latin America" (1995). ed. Leslie Bethell. Cambridge University Press. Vol. XI. p. xvi. ISBN 0-521-39525-9. Google Books. Retrieved on April 4, 2011. "The aim has been to produce a high-level synthesis of existing knowledge which will provide historians of Latin America with a solid base for future research..."
- Jakšić, Ivan. "The Cambridge History of Latin America, Volume 10, Since 1930: Ideas, Culture, and Society". Hispanic American Historical Review (November 1997). 77(4). p. 681. Accessed through EBSCOhost on April 5, 2011. "General Editor Leslie Bethell has labored for more than 15 years to provide the profession with an enduring testament to the maturity and continued vitality of the field of Latin American history."
- Gootenberg, Paul. "Latin America: Economy and Society since 1930" (1999). Hispanic American Historical Review. 79(3). pp. 551-53. Retrieved on April 5, 2011. "This volume is yet another spin-off from the monumental Cambridge History of Latin America (CHLA) directed by Leslie Bethell, which has already earned rave scholarly reviews throughout the 1990s."
- "The Cambridge History of Latin America" (April 15, 1986). Library Journal. 111(7). p. 33. Accessed through EBSCOhost on April 5, 2011. "Though weighted toward political, economic, and ecclesiastical developments, this is nonetheless the most detailed, comprehensive, and authoritative work on the subject available."
- Drake, Paul W. "Latin America: Politics and Society since 1930" (February 1, 2000). Hispanic American Historical Review. 80(1). p. 188. Accessed through EBSCOhost on April 5, 2011. "As with so many other volumes in the Cambridge History of Latin America series, Bethell is to congratulated for a landmark in the field."
- Irwin, Robert McKee. "A Cultural History of Latin America (Book Review)" (Summer 1999). Luso-Brazilian Review. 36(1). p. 148. Accessed through EBSCOhost on April 5, 2011. "...and since this history is not written by a single author. but is an anthology of ten essays by seven different authors, the project is inevitably unwieldy."
- McAlister, Lyle N.. "The Cambridge History of Latin America (Book Review)" (December 1985). American Historical Review. 90(5). p. 1304. Accessed through EBSCOhost on April 5, 2011. "I feel obliged to criticize the "Presentist" weight of the entire work."
- Atkins, G. Pope. "Book Reviews" (February 1997). Hispanic American Historical Review. 77(1). pp. 77-8. Accessed through EBSCOhost on April 5, 2011. "The editor notes that this was the 'most problematical' volume in the series; a long time in the making with changing contributors and organization. Nevertheless, given the 1994 publication date it is not unreasonable to expect further discussion of the..."
- Fisher, John. "Reviews and short notices: The Americas" (October 1992). History. 77(251). p. 466. Accessed through EBSCOhost on April 5, 2011. "...but it seems to have been written some time ago: it says very little about the growing of the mid- and late 1980s."
- Archer, Christon I.. "Latin America" (December 1988). American Historical Review. 93(5). p. 1428-29. Accessed through EBSCOhost on April 5, 2011. "...more of the authors could have pointed out areas where future research will be required."
- (Portuguese) "Sócios Correspondentes". Brazilian Academy of Letters Website. Retrieved on April 5, 2011. Look under the Academicos section head and click on Sócios Correspondentes.
- (Portuguese) "Leslie Bethell". Brazilian Academy of Sciences Website. Retrieved on April 5, 2011. On the sidebar, click on the Membros tag and click the busca de academicos link. Search for Leslie Bethell.