His interpretation balances accounts of agrarian insurgencies, shifting revolutionary alliances, counter-revolutions, and foreign interventions to delineate the triumphs and failures of revolutionary leaders such as Francisco I. Madero, Pancho Villa, Emiliano Zapata, Alvaro Obregón, and Venestiano Carranza. What emerges is a clear understanding of the tangled events of the period and a fuller appreciation of the efforts of revolutionary presidents after 1916 to reinvent Mexico amid the limitations imposed by a war-torn countryside, a hostile international environment, and the resistance of the Catholic Church and large land-owners.
This study, based primarily on previously unavailable private records of sugarcane plantations, examines the external and internal dynamics of the sugar industry. It offers new insights into the process of land consolidation, the economics of sugar technology and production, the formation of the coastal elite, and the organization, recruitment, and control of labor. By focusing on the plantation Cayalti within a regional context, Gonzales presents one of the richest descriptions of the modern plantation for any region of Latin America. The book is a vivid social history of laborers from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, from Chinese to Peruvians of Indian, mestizo, and black heritage.