The Oxford History of Mexico

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Mexico is a country of fascinating contrasts–glorious history and tumultuous politics, extraordinary culture and desperate poverty, ancient traditions and rapid modernization. Yet despite the growing curiosity about Mexico due to increased trade and commerce, mostly resulting from NAFTA, as well as increased tourism and immigration, there is presently no up-to-date, accessible history of Mexico for general readers. The Oxford History of Mexico, edited by M… More >>

The Oxford History of Mexico

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  1. R. Forehand says:

    This book was somewhat of a disappointment. I am an adult student of Spanish and have developed a keen interest in — but am still a relative novice on — the history of Mexico. I bought this book after having read several short accounts of Mexican history — for example, various travel guide history sections (including the relatively thoughtful Insight/Discovery Channel Guide). Additionally, I have studied Mexican history on several academic websites. I bought this book hoping to “pull it all together” and get a solid foundation. Instead, I got book that was admittedly interesting … BUT was a disjointed collection of articles written by different authors in different styles that (1) assumed a much greater base knowledge that I had and (2) concentrated on just a few social and political issues and eras and left huge chronological gaps. So … I’d recommend that you buy this book ONLY if you don’t need it … that is, that you already are conversant in Mexican history. A better selection as a primer might be The Course of Mexican History by Meyer, Sherman and Deeds — designed as a textbook, but pretty readable.
    Rating: 3 / 5

  2. The “Oxford History of Mexico” is a well researched multidisciplinary book of history. It is an edited book, meaning that many authors devote their energies to the analysis of a single aspect of the glorious and heartbreaking history of Mexico. Thus, while each topic is well covered, there is some lack of narrative flow. Editor Michael Meyer is the author of another excellent history “The Course of Mexican History” that has a great narrative pace combined with a high level of detail. However, his book has been criticized for slighting the colonial experience. So, I guess with a story as complicated, long and eventful as the history of Mexico, you must sacrifice some narrative flow to provide detail or sacrifice detail to narrative flow.

    That quibble aside, this is truly an excellent book. The colonial experience is vividly detailed with sections on the resistance of the Indian to exploitation, the social stratification of the Indian class during the colonial period, and the role of women in society including marriage and childbirth. Further, Santa Anna, an enormously polarizing character comes in for justifiable criticism (Texas, his ideological flip flops and lack of constancy to any of his allies over the years) but also is praised for his bravery and consistent patriotism and opposition to all forms of foreign domination of Mexico.

    Finally, the role of ideology in the revolution is explored. While there were socialist overtones to much of the rhetoric that came out of the revolution, pragmatism and Mexicanidad prevail. That is, a truly independent course, truly Mexican, emerges without the ideological straight-jackets worn by other revolutionaries.

    A remarkable effort and a recommended read to anyone with a interest in Mexican culture, history and politics.
    Rating: 4 / 5

  3. Anonymous says:

    A must-read book to understand México’s post-modern conscious. Meyer and Beezley are right when they wrote that a mix of Catholic dogma, medical advances and poverty had been the pillars of México’s current population (about 100 million). The analysis on the indigenous matter is brilliant. It’s a reminder on how México hasn’t solved the indigenous problem even after almost 200 years as an independent country. The authors dissect the socioeconomic web that gave birth to the concept of the modern Mexicano.
    Rating: 4 / 5

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