Fire And Blood: A History Of Mexico

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There have been many Mexicos. Fehrenbach brilliantly delineates the contrasts and conflicts between them, unraveling the history while weaving a fascinating tapestry of beauty and brutality. Throughout the narrative the author resurrects the great personalities of Mexican history. This edition has been updated to include recent events…. More >>

Fire And Blood: A History Of Mexico

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This book is a good introduction to the history of Mexico and is generally pretty readable. It gives a good picture of the complex and difficult history of the country, particularly from the time of the conquest until the mid-twentieth century. I would recommend reading this book because you will learn a lot. However, his view of the treatment of indiginous peoples seems dated and quite unsympathetic. It seems that the author has a particular dislike for some unnamed leftist intellectuals who might sympathize or romaticize the country’s indiginous past. He spends far too much time tediously attacking some anonymous group that might insist on the importance of Mexico’s Pre-Columbian past as a bunch of foolish romantics. In fact, a major theme of this book is to dispell any myth of Mexico as a country with a real Pre-Columbian heritage. Whether this is true seems debatable. Likewise, he spends an awful lot of time apologizing and excusing actions taken by the various Mexican governments. Having said all that, I still think it’s a good introduction to Mexican history. I just recommend that you read it with a critical eye.
    Rating: 4 / 5

  2. tom meurer says:

    Heavy book but an easy read. I have been trying to understand Mexico and reading all I can. The better books have been Conquest by Thomas, Mexico by Krauze and LaCapita by Kandell. Fehrenbach surpasses them all by a factor of two. For a “non-fiction” reader it is a smooth read and chunked full of significant observations and facts that a “Gringo” needs to understand when dealing with Mexico. It is a must read for the business executive working in Mexico as well as the historian trying to understand Mexico’s feelings towards the United States.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  3. Having traveled and lived in Mexico most of my life, I was constantly exposed to certain aspects of every day life that just didn’t seem to fit with my Anglo raising. Even though I spent forty five years immersed in the Mexican Culture there were certain things I just didn’t understand. T.R. Fehrenbach’s Fire and Blood answered most of my life long questions.

    The book is a meticulously researched, chronological history of the country known as Mexico. The book gives a detailed account of why citizens of Mexico today think and act the way they do; their philosophy of life, their relationship with the Catholic Church and their attitude toward a centralized government. If you could choose one or two sentences from the book that explain one of the basic differences between the Hispanic Culture and that of the remainder of North America it is Fehrenbach’s assertion that while the rest of North America was colonized by settlers and explorers, the men arriving in Mexico from Spain were “Conquistadors”, conquerors. That difference is what makes Mexico the wonderful country it is today.

    This book should be mandatory reading for anyone considering a business venture, or currently involved in business or trade with in Mexico. The insight you will receive can not be learned in a life time of living and working in the country. The same can be said for anyone interested in living or traveling in the country. It will help relieve some of the Anglo’s misunderstanding and frustrations as to why the citizens of Mexico don’t “do it” like we do.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  4. Sue Davis says:

    I am taking a Mexican History class (in Spanish and in Mexico) and have been using Fehrenbach’s book to check on details of events and names of major political actors–many he does not even mention. That may be justified given that FIRE AND BLOOD is an overview rather than an in-depth analysis. Still, I noticed some glaring errors in addition to what seem like unfounded ethnocentric opinions. For example, the author claims that the Maya were living in the jungle as “savages” in the seventeenth century. He notes that “their written history carved on stone, is not readable” but does not mention the burning of the codices by Diego de Landa until 200 pages farther on in the book. Moreover, the author contends that the “Maya civilization destroyed itself without outside help,” referring to squabbling between the cities that were left after the civilization had “degenerated.” Mexico in the years following Independence is depicted as a society in which virtually no one had any idea of what it meant to be Mexican or how to build a nation or what the purpose of an election was. Finally, the comparisons between the United States (egalitarian, with democratic values even during colonial times) and Mexico (essentially the opposite) is a misleading oversimplification. And George Washington was not selected by Congress but by the Electoral College in the first presidential election. A book without a single footnote and only the briefest list of references, many of which are from the early twentieth century, cannot, in my view, be characterized as scholarly.
    Rating: 2 / 5

  5. Anonymous says:

    A tiresome read; however, the scope was irresistable. On the political spectrum, non-dogmatically right-wing. Biggest annoyance: constantly makes oblique references to uncited sources (“it has often been said that… however…”). Occasional factual inaccuracies, and bizarrely unfounded opinions. For anyone interested in the current situation in Chiapas or the place of the Mayan peoples in Mexico’s history, it’s almost useless – the author has no interest in these issues and thus almost ignores them (he dismisses the entire Mayan culture as essentially no more than derivative of the Aztec). It’s a useful book as a supplement to other, more specialized books (e.g. Hugh Thomas’s excellent Conquest of Mexico). I felt I got an extensive overview, from the earliest nomadic peoples to Cortes to Zedillo, but not one upon which I could really depend factually.
    Rating: 3 / 5

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