A diverse collection of more than eighty selections, The Mexico Reader brings together poetry, folklore, fiction, polemics, photoessays, songs, political cartoons, memoirs, satire, and scholarly writing. Many pieces are by Mexicans, and a substantial number appear for the first time in English. Works by Octavio Paz and Carlos Fuentes are included along with pieces about such well-known figures as the larger-than-life revolutionary leaders Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata; there is also a comminiqué from a more recent rebel, Subcomandante Marcos. At the same time, the book highlights the perspectives of many others—indigenous peoples, women, politicians, patriots, artists, soldiers, rebels, priests, workers, peasants, foreign diplomats, and travelers.
The Mexico Reader explores what it means to be Mexican, tracing the history of Mexico from pre-Columbian times through the country’s epic revolution (1910–17) to the present day. The materials relating to the latter half of the twentieth century focus on the contradictions and costs of postrevolutionary modernization, the rise of civil society, and the dynamic cross-cultural zone marked by the two thousand-mile Mexico-U.S. border. The editors have divided the book into several sections organized roughly in chronological order and have provided brief historical contexts for each section. They have also furnished a lengthy list of resources about Mexico, including websites and suggestions for further reading.
Gilbert M. Joseph is Farnam Professor of History and Director of Latin American and Iberian Studies at Yale University. He is coeditor of Everyday Forms of State Formation: Revolution and the Negotiation of Rule in Modern Mexico and Close Encounters of Empire: Writing the Cultural History of U.S.–Latin American Relations (both published by Duke University Press).
Timothy J. Henderson is Associate Professor of History at Auburn University Montgomery. He is the author of The Worm in the Wheat: Rosalie Evans and Agrarian Struggle in the Puebla-Tlaxcala Valley of Mexico, 1908–1927 (also published by Duke University Press).
Mexico’s Revolution Then and Now also explores the possibility of Mexico’s revolutionary history finally bearing the fruit long hoped for by the country's disenfranchised—a prospect kept alive by the unyieldingstruggle of the last one hundred years. This is the definitive introduction to one of the most important events of the twentieth century.
Richard B. Lindley’s study of Guadalajara’s wealthy citizens on the eve of independence contradicts this view, clearly demonstrating that landowners, merchants, creoles, and peninsulars, through intermarriage, formed large family enterprises with mixed agricultural, commercial, and mining interests. These family enterprises subdued potential conflicts of interest between Spaniards and Americans, making partners of potential competitors.
When the wars for national independence began in 1810, Spain’s ability to protect its colonies from outside influence was destroyed. The resultant influx of British trade goods and finance shook the structure of colonial society, as abundant British capital quickly reduced the capital shortage that had been the main reason for large-scale, diversified family businesses.
Elite family enterprises survived, but became less traditional and more specialized institutions. This transformation from traditional, personalized community relations to modern, anonymous corporations, with all that it implied for government and productivity, constitutes the real revolution that began in 1810.
An isolated, impoverished backwater for most of the nineteenth century, by 1920, the Soconusco had transformed into a small but vibrant node in the web of global commerce. Alongside plantation owners and foreign investors, a dense but little-explored web of small-time producers, shopowners, and laborers played key roles in the rapid expansion of export production. Their deep engagement with rural development challenges the standard top-down narrative of market integration led by economic elites allied with a strong state. Here, Casey Marina Lurtz argues that the export boom owed its success to a diverse body of players whose choices had profound impacts on Latin America's export-driven economy during the first era of globalization.
Despite its fame early in the twentieth century, Barbarous Mexico was out of print for close to sixty years. The present edition, with an introductory biographical essay on Turner by Sinclair Snow and photographs of the principal characters involved, not only reemphasizes the causes of the Mexican Revolution, but provides both lay reader and scholar with a vivid and exciting account of life in Mexico under Porfirio Díaz.
In contrast with many current books that treat the war as a fundamentally American experience, Timothy J. Henderson's A Glorious Defeat offers a fresh perspective on the Mexican side of the equation. Examining the manner in which Mexico gained independence, Henderson brings to light a greater understanding of that country's intense factionalism and political paralysis leading up to and through the war. Also touching on a range of topics from culture, ethnicity, religion, and geography, this comprehensive yet concise narrative humanizes the conflict and serves as the perfect introduction for new readers of Mexican history.
Gobat focuses primarily on the reactions of the elites to Americanization, because the power and identity of these Nicaraguans were the most significantly affected by U.S. imperial rule. He describes their adoption of aspects of “the American way of life” in the mid–nineteenth century as strategic rather than wholesale. Chronicling the U.S. occupation of 1912–33, he argues that the anti-American turn of Nicaragua’s most Americanized oligarchs stemmed largely from the efforts of U.S. bankers, marines, and missionaries to spread their own version of the American dream. In part, the oligarchs’ reversal reflected their anguish over the 1920s rise of Protestantism, the “modern woman,” and other “vices of modernity” emanating from the United States. But it also responded to the unintended ways that U.S. modernization efforts enabled peasants to weaken landlord power. Gobat demonstrates that the U.S. occupation so profoundly affected Nicaragua that it helped engender the Sandino Rebellion of 1927–33, the Somoza dictatorship of 1936–79, and the Sandinista Revolution of 1979–90.
Easily navigating through nineteenth-century Mexico's complex and volatile political environment, Timothy J. Henderson offers a well-rounded treatment of the entire period, but pays particular attention to the early phases of the revolt under the priests Miguel Hidalgo and José María Morelos. Hidalgo promised an immediate end to slavery and tailored his appeals to the poor, but also sanctioned pillage and shocking acts of violence. This savagery would ultimately cost Hidalgo, Morelos, and the entire country dearly, leading to the revolution's failure in pursuit of both meaningful social and political reform. While Mexico eventually gained independence from Spain, severe social injustices remained and would fester for another century. Henderson deftly traces the major leaders and conflicts, forcing us to reconsider what "independence" meant and means for Mexico today.