free hit counter code Mexico Biography of Power - GoBooks - Download Free Book
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Mexico Biography of Power

Availability: Ready to download

The concentration of power in the caudillo (leader) is as much a formative element of Mexican culture and politics as the historical legacy of the Aztec emperors, Cortez, the Spanish Crown, the Mother Church and the mixing of the Spanish and Indian population into a mestizo culture. Krauze shows how history becomes biography during the century of caudillos from the insurge The concentration of power in the caudillo (leader) is as much a formative element of Mexican culture and politics as the historical legacy of the Aztec emperors, Cortez, the Spanish Crown, the Mother Church and the mixing of the Spanish and Indian population into a mestizo culture. Krauze shows how history becomes biography during the century of caudillos from the insurgent priests in 1810 to Porfirio and the Revolution in 1910. The Revolutionary era, ending in 1940, was dominated by the lives of seven presidents -- Madero, Zapata, Villa, Carranza, Obregon, Calles and Cardenas. Since 1940, the dominant power of the presidency has continued through years of boom and bust and crisis. A major question for the modern state, with today's president Zedillo, is whether that power can be decentralized, to end the cycles of history as biographies of power.


Compare
Ads Banner

The concentration of power in the caudillo (leader) is as much a formative element of Mexican culture and politics as the historical legacy of the Aztec emperors, Cortez, the Spanish Crown, the Mother Church and the mixing of the Spanish and Indian population into a mestizo culture. Krauze shows how history becomes biography during the century of caudillos from the insurge The concentration of power in the caudillo (leader) is as much a formative element of Mexican culture and politics as the historical legacy of the Aztec emperors, Cortez, the Spanish Crown, the Mother Church and the mixing of the Spanish and Indian population into a mestizo culture. Krauze shows how history becomes biography during the century of caudillos from the insurgent priests in 1810 to Porfirio and the Revolution in 1910. The Revolutionary era, ending in 1940, was dominated by the lives of seven presidents -- Madero, Zapata, Villa, Carranza, Obregon, Calles and Cardenas. Since 1940, the dominant power of the presidency has continued through years of boom and bust and crisis. A major question for the modern state, with today's president Zedillo, is whether that power can be decentralized, to end the cycles of history as biographies of power.

30 review for Mexico Biography of Power

  1. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    HEADLINE: I give you fair warning. I am in the grip of a frenzy of enthusiasm about this book. There are some historians who have a great talent for story-telling. From my own experience, George Lefebvre on the French Revolution and Barbara Tuchman on the days leading up to World War I come to mind. I confess that I am not a fan of David McCullough, but I concede that he has this talent, too. Let us not overdo this subject, however. Let us just say that the fact that a history becomes popular sho HEADLINE: I give you fair warning. I am in the grip of a frenzy of enthusiasm about this book. There are some historians who have a great talent for story-telling. From my own experience, George Lefebvre on the French Revolution and Barbara Tuchman on the days leading up to World War I come to mind. I confess that I am not a fan of David McCullough, but I concede that he has this talent, too. Let us not overdo this subject, however. Let us just say that the fact that a history becomes popular should not necessarily discount of it as light weight. The command of a story line and the assumption of a point of view are essential to writing history. Otherwise, it simply becomes of mishmash of who did what when, who killed whom, and who fucked whom, figuratively and literally. That is precisely the criticism of the writing of history put forth by Tolstoy in War and Peace. He strongly felt that the study of history should take the great movements of people as its subject because the personalities involved, such as Napoleon, were simply individuals who managed to get out in front of great movements of people. Enrique Krauze's explicit response to this, although he would not necessarily disagree on principle, is that it is impossible to understand the history of modern Mexico without a profound grasp of the personalities involved. After reading this book, I must say that he has made his case with me. Mexico, Biography of Power, A History of Modern Mexico, 1810-1996 has a better, more entertaining story line stretching across decades than does, say, the novel 100 Years of Solitude. The characters come back to life. One may think one knows something of Pancho Villa, Emiliano Zapata, or Benito Juárez, but here one makes their personal acquaintance. I knew something of Father Hidalgo, credited with starting the War for Independence from Spain with his cry of “¡Viva México!” from the church steps in Dolores Hidalgo, then simply Dolores, a short distance north of where I write this. I knew nothing of Father José María Morelos from the south with his bandana on his head, arguably a more important figure in the early part of that war. (The idea of pistolero priests is one that takes some getting used to.) I personally knew nothing of the spiritualist Francisco I. Madero, the man who started the Mexican Revolution of 1910. I most enjoyed making the acquaintance of the great President Lázaro Cárdenas, an immense figure in 20th Century Mexican history. Previously, for me Lázaro Cárdenas was simply the name of a town with Pacific beaches to the north and the south that are among the greatest that I have ever encountered. There are also fascinating minor characters such as Ganzalo N. Santos, the cacique who ran the next state north and east of here, San Luis Potosí, as his personal caliphate into the 1960's with this philosophy: "Look, I am not going to lose any sleep over one dead man more or less." Nonetheless, these characters do not overshadow the real learning to be acquired. I have long been puzzled by the seemingly oxymoronic name of the political party that has dominated Mexican politics since the Revolution, the PRI, the "Institutional Revolutionary Party." Now, I understand. And therein lies the serious value of the book beyond the grand entertainment that it provides. The structure of the book is interesting and at the heart of Krauze's demonstrated skill at story-telling. At the outset we are set down in the midst of the celebration in Mexico City of the centennial of the War for Independence, a magnificent celebration orchestrated by President Porfirio Diaz in September 1910. Diaz had been in power since 1876. Two months later in November 1910 the Revolution starts and Diaz is gone. From this jumping off point right in the middle of the period covered by the book, Krauze takes us back and then forward. The climax of the book--not the end, folks, the climax--is the slaughter of hundreds of students--nobody yet knows the number--in Plaza de Tlatelolco in that incredible year worldwide, 1968. To understand the place that event holds in modern Mexican history is alone worth the price of admission. The book truly is a tour de force of narrative in my estimation. And what a poetically fitting time to read this now in 2010, the bicentennial year of the War for Independence and the centennial year of the Revolution. Do yourself a favor. You know me. I am not one to collar you and tell you, “You must read this book!” But this time. . . Do not say that I did not warn you at the beginning.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Antonio Nunez

    I have to confess I haven't read the English version of this book. But if it's anywhere as good as the 3-volume Spanish version, it is probably excellent. Mexico, particularly in Latin America, is a mythical country. It has always had a vibrant popular culture. In Colombia, it used to be said that the upper class aspired to be English, the middle class wanted to be American, and the lower class wished to be Mexican. This is not intended to offend Mexico, but just a statement of its powerful pull I have to confess I haven't read the English version of this book. But if it's anywhere as good as the 3-volume Spanish version, it is probably excellent. Mexico, particularly in Latin America, is a mythical country. It has always had a vibrant popular culture. In Colombia, it used to be said that the upper class aspired to be English, the middle class wanted to be American, and the lower class wished to be Mexican. This is not intended to offend Mexico, but just a statement of its powerful pull over others. Amazingly, such an important country has never had such a strong historiography as much smaller ones, like Cuba. This has many reasons, one of them being that the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI), probably the most effective political party in history, was able to co-opt most intellectuals either with favors or intimidation. Therefore, much Mexican history used to revel in a hagiographical version of its pre-Columbian splendor and to celebrate politically correct milestones, such as Hidalgo's cry, Juarez's victory over Maximilian or the 1911 revolution, while glossing over other important but more embarrasing episodes, such as Iturbide's empire, Santa Anna's 30 year reign that led to the less of the Northern half of the country to the US, Maximilian's closeness to Indian land rights (Indians in Mexico were never better treated than under Maximilian), the remarkably efficient Porfiriato (a 35 year-long dictatorship), or the extremely brutal aftermath of the revolution. This promoted a mythological self-view of Mexico that paved the ground for the economic catastrophe of Lopez Portillo and the political catastrophe of Salinas de Gortari. For anyone interested in looking behind the cobwebs of official history and popular culture, Krauze is a godsend. In his work one can view the greater trends of Mexican history, and understand how a country may be both statist and hospitable to private business, officially anti-clerical but deeply religious, often in unorthodox ways, extremely violent but highly cultured, with an often radical foreign policy that belied a very conservative political culture. As a Colombian I was very surprised at the conservative failure to win power from the 1870s to President Fox (in Colombia the conservatives have run the country for well over half of its existence). One, of course, has to see the origin of this in the alleged betrayal of the conservatives who supported Maximilian's empire, even though Maximilian himself wasn't conservative at all. And Mexico's complex attitude to religion can be traced to such ambivalent figures as Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (a nun-poet who was deeply critical of male domination in the Church) and Father Hidalgo (a revolutionary priest who is one of Mexico's Founding Fathers, who was close to freemasons and loved to indulge in forbidden readings and female companionship). Mexico's strong nationalism is of course fueled by its closeness to the most powerful country in the world. Like Porfirio Diaz lamented, "We are so far away from God, and so close to the Americans". Also Mexico's Indian pride (maybe no country other than Paraguay, where dictator Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia forced whites and indians to marry, has a better tradition of metissage, although the rights of actual indians have historically been disregarded: cf. the Zapatistas in Yucatán) did not prevent it from receiving the greater part of Republican Spanish emigration after the Civil War. So, Mexico is a complex country, perhaps more than most. It is also, after Argentina's self-combustion, the only Hispanic-American country to have a shot at the first world (Chile is actually getting there, but it’s much smaller than Mexico). Harvard's Huntington has decried Mexican influence in the US, and has even hinted that Mexico could use its presence throughout the South Western US to reclaim its former territories. That is highly unlikely. Mexico is fully aware that it has to live and work with its powerful northern neighbor (although that's not inconsistent with an official nationalist policy, for popular consumption). But these fears indicate that all North Americans should be interested in Mexico. And Krauze is a great place to start. Americans, in particular, do worse than to know more about their great southern neighbor.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bob Nichols

    This is an excellent history of modern Mexico (from 1810, its independence from Spain), told through the biographies of Mexico’s leaders. The history is a case study about how political culture shapes and constrains a country. Mexico is split into multiple factions: different Indian tribes, creoles (of European descent, born in Mexico), Mestizos (mixed European-Indian ancestry), clerics, anti-clerics, liberals (anti-church, anti-Spanish, in both moderate and radical forms; and communists in the This is an excellent history of modern Mexico (from 1810, its independence from Spain), told through the biographies of Mexico’s leaders. The history is a case study about how political culture shapes and constrains a country. Mexico is split into multiple factions: different Indian tribes, creoles (of European descent, born in Mexico), Mestizos (mixed European-Indian ancestry), clerics, anti-clerics, liberals (anti-church, anti-Spanish, in both moderate and radical forms; and communists in the 1920s-30s). The overall split is between the conservatives (church-Spain-wealth) and liberals (anti-all of these). In the Hobbesian fashion, autocratic leaders filled the governing void. This is Krauze’s “biography of power” thesis. This "concentration of power into a single power,” Krauze states, found its expression as “the historic norm across the centuries,” as “tlatoani, monarch, viceroy, emperor, President, caudillo, jefe, etadista.” Unlike Hobbes’s Leviathan, though, the Mexican leaders promoted not the good of the whole, but the good of their factions. The strong man tradition is well represented by the long-time leader, Santa Anna, who, Krauze writes, “gave a thousand or so dazzling speeches in which it is hard to find one sincere phrase or even a glimmer of authenticity beyond the authenticity of performance.” The liberals gradually became ascendant and, by 1940, the author writes that “the country had reestablished order, centered around a political system controlled by a ‘Revolutionary Family’ rather than a single person, though personal government would continue to be a central feature of Mexican political life.” Mexico’s factionalized political culture and political chaos left a weak and inept Mexican state that result in a 1847 U.S. invasion that saw the U.S. flag raised above the National Palace in Mexico City and the total loss of territory that was the equivalent to what the U.S. obtained through the Louisiana Purchase.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sam Quinones

    My professor of Russian/Soviet history once said in a lecture that you could tell the depth of centralization of power in a country by how many biographies it minimally took to tell a fairly complete history of the country. In the case of the Soviet Union, it was like five: Lenin, Stalin, Trosky, Bukharin, Zinoviev/Kamenev. Such was the level of concentration of power that reading the lives of those guys was pretty much all you needed to understand the Revolution and the first four decades of the My professor of Russian/Soviet history once said in a lecture that you could tell the depth of centralization of power in a country by how many biographies it minimally took to tell a fairly complete history of the country. In the case of the Soviet Union, it was like five: Lenin, Stalin, Trosky, Bukharin, Zinoviev/Kamenev. Such was the level of concentration of power that reading the lives of those guys was pretty much all you needed to understand the Revolution and the first four decades of the Soviet experiment and Russian life in general, as their lives determined a lot of what went in the country during those years: economics, agriculture, politics, culture. Something similar can be said for Mexico, though the number of biographies is larger. In no particular order, read the biographies of Diaz, Calles, Cardenas, Carranza, Zapata, Madero, Villa, and a few others. That's why this book is so important and helpful. It's a terrific overview of Mexican history through the lives of the people who were its main actors. And in Mexico, the main actors determined a whole lot more than they determine in other less centralized, less classist countries. Given the centralization of the country's political, economic and cultural life, these fellows' biographies and a few more are all you need to have a pretty good understanding of the broad contours and a lot of the details of Mexican life from before the Revolution through WWII. Loved, in particular, the part about Zapata, who was simply a small farmer/landholder, interested in gaining land for his followers. He likely would have repudiated the aims of the folks who used his name many years later. Reminded me of the use of the image of Cesar Chavez by those interested in promoting the legalization of illegal immigrants. Chavez hated illegal immigrants because they undermined the ability of his people - Mexican-Americans - to get a fair deal from growers.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dale

    I read this book to get a broad overview of Mexican history, and was not disappointed. I'm not usually a fan of the Great Man style of historical writing, but perhaps it was justified in this case. Mexico has certainly had its share of charismatic or despotic leaders, as well as ones who were just odd and hapless, such as Francisco Madero. There have been so many opportunities for real social change squandered by leaders who became intoxicated with power and by those who refused to exercise power I read this book to get a broad overview of Mexican history, and was not disappointed. I'm not usually a fan of the Great Man style of historical writing, but perhaps it was justified in this case. Mexico has certainly had its share of charismatic or despotic leaders, as well as ones who were just odd and hapless, such as Francisco Madero. There have been so many opportunities for real social change squandered by leaders who became intoxicated with power and by those who refused to exercise power when they had the chance. The revolution of 1910 could have resulted in the destruction of the hacienda system and a genuinely democratic society, but turned instead into an institutionalized version of the Porfirio Diaz regime, giving only lip service to land and labor reform but existing in reality primarily to serve the interests of the ruling classes. But, who knows, despite the recent electoral victory by PRI, maybe change is in the air. The new Zapatistas seem to have widespread support, and Lopez-Obrador came a close second in the presidential election despite widespread election fraud, propaganda, and intimidation. So perhaps Mexico will one day become a truly democratic society. I hope so.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    This is a very comprehensive and scholarly history of Mexico covering the period from the start of the American War of Independence to the end of the Institutional Revolutionary Party. I studied Canadian and French history as a undergraduate but never took any courses dealing with Mexico thus my perspective on this book is formed by having read one other survey history of Mexico and several novels by Carlos Fuentes. My instinctive rather than my informed reaction is that this book constitutes an This is a very comprehensive and scholarly history of Mexico covering the period from the start of the American War of Independence to the end of the Institutional Revolutionary Party. I studied Canadian and French history as a undergraduate but never took any courses dealing with Mexico thus my perspective on this book is formed by having read one other survey history of Mexico and several novels by Carlos Fuentes. My instinctive rather than my informed reaction is that this book constitutes an exceptionally fine introductory history to Mexico. Knowing little about the topic I feel uncomfortable giving it the fifth star which I suspect that it probably deserves. Because of its style, comprehensiveness and clarity I would certainly not look anywhere else for an introductory survey history.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joauquin

    The Dork in Me. I read this for a class, (Chicano Studies taught by an Asian Ph. D.)... to this day it remains at the top of my list. The more i see of the world, the more amazing it is to me the drivel they spoonfed us in High School. Yet, more amazing still, is the number of people who can not even conceive that there is another version/perspective of His-story.... As the Serbian repairman told me the other day, " There are a lot of stupid people in this country... what do you say?..... you can The Dork in Me. I read this for a class, (Chicano Studies taught by an Asian Ph. D.)... to this day it remains at the top of my list. The more i see of the world, the more amazing it is to me the drivel they spoonfed us in High School. Yet, more amazing still, is the number of people who can not even conceive that there is another version/perspective of His-story.... As the Serbian repairman told me the other day, " There are a lot of stupid people in this country... what do you say?..... you can take the person out of the trailer park, but can not take the trailer park out of the person " hmmmm....

  8. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    For anyone with an interest in Mexican history. Extremely well written and thorough, offering the historical analysis along with touching personal anecdotes that make the history come alive. Mexico has as many revolutionary heroes and self-sacrificing saints as one could ever hope to find.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nora

    Before reading this, you might think 800 pages of historical biography would be dull. But in truth it's absolutely gripping, and, for me, revelatory.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alejandro Hernández

    If you ever doubted that Mexico had a gripping history, you should pick up this book and read any chapter. It's brilliant.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Million

    Almost twenty years ago, when I was in college, I remember taking a history course on Modern Mexico. I found it interesting due to the continual struggle for power that has marked the country since its 1810 Revolution. Mexican history is littered with uprisings, revolts, massacres, egomaniacs, backstabbing, corruption, incompetence, and - most of all - blood. I came away from that course being somewhat shocked at how screwed up Mexico was due to all of the above. I once again have that same feel Almost twenty years ago, when I was in college, I remember taking a history course on Modern Mexico. I found it interesting due to the continual struggle for power that has marked the country since its 1810 Revolution. Mexican history is littered with uprisings, revolts, massacres, egomaniacs, backstabbing, corruption, incompetence, and - most of all - blood. I came away from that course being somewhat shocked at how screwed up Mexico was due to all of the above. I once again have that same feeling now that I have finished reading this book. Mexico is a country that has never seemed to be at peace with itself, dating from the Spanish Conquest by Hernan Cortes in 1519. The mixing of Indian and Spaniard blood - mestizaje - helped reduce racial tensions, but solved little else. The country was heavily dominated by the Catholic Church, although the stature of the Church has declined throughout the 20th century. The political culture is somewhat socialistic with autocratic men in charge. After a long period of rule by Porfirio Diaz (34 years), the Revolution in 1910 resulted in two decades of the most unstable political situation that one could imagine. Overthrows, executions, exiles, bloody drawn-out local and regional wars, and a continuous revolving door of dictators characterized this period. Beginning in 1940, things settled down but then institutional and political suppression began to rule. The government cracked down (way too) hard on, first, railroad workers in 1958, then students and teachers in 1968. The Presidency itself had stabilized by then: each man serving one six-year term and being forbidden to be re-elected. But the PRI - the dominant political party - controlled almost all elections. In any that it may have legitimately lost to its biggest rival, PAN, it would use massive vote fraud and illegal tactics (burning of ballot boxes, for example) to declare victory. Each President hand-picked his successor, and the presidential election in July was an election in name only. Krauze clearly cares deeply about his country - this tends to come through more in the last part of the book (as he was alive to live through those events). Chronologically, he divides the book into five different parts. While this works well, within these parts the chapters typically focus on a single President, with the result that each chapter has some overlap with the few prior to it and those following it. Also, he would go back to begin a brief biography of each man. This proved difficult to keep up with as, for instance, during the tumultuous 1910s and 1920s, each time he started a new chapter about someone (like Venustiano Carranza, for instance) the reader gets transported back to the person's birth and has to move forward through events that were already described (all be it from different viewpoints) to the present time of the chapter. Especially for someone not very familiar with Mexican History, this tended to make many of the leaders from around this time sort of blend together. There were a few topics that Krauze really did not delve into: very little was written about the War with Mexico in the 1840s. With Mexico losing such a vast expanse of territory to the United States, and coming on the heels of the annexation of Texas in 1836, I would have thought that this would have garnered much more than the couple of pages that Krauze devotes to it. Also missing was a description of just how the 1968 Summer Olympics went. Krauze wrote at length about the government suppression of student protests in the summer if 1968, but nothing at all about the Olympics themselves. He also does not talk about the immigration issue - from Mexico's standpoint it would be the inability to make itself attractive to its natives. However, overall, anyone wishing to learn a few things about Mexico in the last 200 years could be well-served by reading this book. Grade: B-

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marc Wallach

    My favorite history book of the last 5+ years. Colorfully written, w/ focus on the "caudillos" / leaders from early 1800s to late 1900s. I find Mexico a fascinating country w/ an interesting history. I had a number of questions going into the book that it helped illuminate for me: -history of agrarian reform in MX - what has worked and what hasn't? -unique geography next to the US - how has it handled that relationship; how has it benefited / suffered from that border? -history of the PRI - how di My favorite history book of the last 5+ years. Colorfully written, w/ focus on the "caudillos" / leaders from early 1800s to late 1900s. I find Mexico a fascinating country w/ an interesting history. I had a number of questions going into the book that it helped illuminate for me: -history of agrarian reform in MX - what has worked and what hasn't? -unique geography next to the US - how has it handled that relationship; how has it benefited / suffered from that border? -history of the PRI - how did one-party rule survive for so long, and what explained changes in political / economic stances over time if leadership all came from one party? -resource curse in MX - how did the country succeed or fail to take advantage of its rich resource base (oil, etc)? -Mexico has a lot of internal regional diversity - how has this played out over time politically / economically? -How has the country balanced economic development / GDP growth vs. economic redistribution? Where has it worked vs. not worked and what gave rise to some of its current issues (large informal economy, etc)? -What were seeds of current political fervor against corruption / violence? -Why did its revolution go on for so long, and how has country addressed its key issues over time?

  13. 4 out of 5

    Derek

    Someone should have told Krauze about Thomas Carlyle. Locates far too much causation in the realm of personal psychology (even the Tlatelolco massacre he blames on Diaz Ordaz's paranoia and faulty intelligence - one might ask being fed to him by whom?) Explains away everything wrong with the Mexican political system by the term "corruption" with little in the way of a procedural explanation for how it occurs. Krauze's fetishism for formal democracy leads him to paint most Mexican political actor Someone should have told Krauze about Thomas Carlyle. Locates far too much causation in the realm of personal psychology (even the Tlatelolco massacre he blames on Diaz Ordaz's paranoia and faulty intelligence - one might ask being fed to him by whom?) Explains away everything wrong with the Mexican political system by the term "corruption" with little in the way of a procedural explanation for how it occurs. Krauze's fetishism for formal democracy leads him to paint most Mexican political actors in a hopelessly ambiguous fashion, even Sinarquista elements within PAN. Breezes through the '70s and beyond even though he lets on that he has the capacity for something more comprehensive there

  14. 4 out of 5

    Erik Champenois

    I have a goal of reading books on the history of at least half of the world's countries, but my focus has been primarily on Europe, Asia, and Africa. This was my first book on a Latin American country and is an overall well-written and engaging treatment of Mexican history. Its premise - made clear through the title "biography of power" - is that the making of modern Mexico can best be understood through the lives of its caudillos (military and political leaders) who, either through revolution o I have a goal of reading books on the history of at least half of the world's countries, but my focus has been primarily on Europe, Asia, and Africa. This was my first book on a Latin American country and is an overall well-written and engaging treatment of Mexican history. Its premise - made clear through the title "biography of power" - is that the making of modern Mexico can best be understood through the lives of its caudillos (military and political leaders) who, either through revolution or through their leadership of the country and the Institutional Revolutionary Party, exercised outsize (and generally autocratic) influence. Most of the book is therefore structured into chapters covering various Mexican presidents, with a particular focus on the 1910s Mexican Revolution which takes up almost a third of the book. Three characters stood out in particular to me: Francisco Madero, one of the early revolutionary presidents of Mexico (from 1911 to his assassination in 1913), and someone who was influenced by spiritualism and believed that he received messages from his dead brother and Benito Juarez (prior President of Mexico). The Austrian archduke Maximilian and his wife Carlota, who were brought into power as Emperor of Mexico through a French invasion in the 1860s, eventually resulting in Maximilian's overthrow and death and in Carlota's insanity. And finally, Lazaro Cardenas, President between 1934-1940, who continued to exert influence in Mexico after his presidency, sometimes acting as a critic of the regime, and who even tried to travel to Cuba in defense of Fidel Castro during the Bay of Pigs. A couple of other takeaways from the book: the importance of religion/Catholicism to Mexican history, and the dominance of the PRI as Mexico's governing party. On religion, Catholicism became a part of Mexican history with the arrival of the conquistadors and much of Spain's governing of New Spain taking place through priests. The 1767 expulsion of Jesuits from New Spain, and subsequent diminishing of the authority of the church in Mexico is really what led to priests rising up and leading the Mexican War of Independence in 1810-1821. The Mexican Revolution of the 1910s was largely anti-Catholic and anti-religious, leading to the Cristero War, with massive rural uprisings supported by priests protecting the Catholic Church against secularism and atheism. The role of religion in political and military conflict has really had a noteworthy place in Mexican history. Lastly, the dominance of the PRI. The PRI was created to preserve and institutionalize the Mexican Revolution, literally making Mexico a one-party state between 1929 and 2000, when the PRI's monopoly was finally broken by the election of Vicente Fox. While Mexico was not as closed off as the Soviet Union it did experience periods of authoritative repression, including through the killing of protesting students in 1968 and 1971. The book, ending in 1996, ends with President Zedillo, whose partial reforms can in retrospect be seen as paving the way for Vicente Fox's win and the further reforms and democratization that Mexico has experienced since then. The book is also helpful in situating current day events with President AMLO (Andrés Manuel López Obrador), often characterized as part of the global populist wave but just as much a continuation of the Mexican phenomenon of the caudillo, continuing once again Mexico's biography of power.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Maximilian Gerboc

    An incredibly well researched, in depth analysis of the history of Mexico and a legitimate analysis of how that country got to where it is now. At the time of its writing, the PRI was still in power with no real end in sight, and the EZLN was still an issue being contented with. Those issues have changed, but otherwise, the major problems of Mexico remain. Krauze’s classically liberal politics are a tad right for my taste, and I think contemporary Mexico shows that the democratic opening of the c An incredibly well researched, in depth analysis of the history of Mexico and a legitimate analysis of how that country got to where it is now. At the time of its writing, the PRI was still in power with no real end in sight, and the EZLN was still an issue being contented with. Those issues have changed, but otherwise, the major problems of Mexico remain. Krauze’s classically liberal politics are a tad right for my taste, and I think contemporary Mexico shows that the democratic opening of the country’s politics, especially with the emergence of the PAN and their two consecutive presidencies (2000-2012), have not solved the age old issues of inequality or the rise of the drug cartels. Other than that (which he couldn’t have seen at the time of writing in 1997), this book is a real wealth of information which does point to Krauze’s main point - Mexico as a whole, through its various political and structural iterations, has been entirely too dependent on the individual in the supreme executive power.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Fran

    Since the history of Mexico is tied to “strong men,” Krauze structures the book with short biographies, starting with Cortes. The translation is very easy to read, almost like fiction. I knew very little about Mexico or it’s history, so very different from our own despite both being discovered by Spanish explorers. The book shows the consequences of authoritarian presidents and weak legislators, very important given our current situation. Highly recommend.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Laura Morales

    I am keeping this book on my night stand, so much history!!! I am going to go back as reference, as I continue to read other books on the subject. I am a US citizen, born in Mexico and I am reading a book in English about my Mexican heritage!! Go figure!! I absolutely love the book and I learned so much!! Yes, I am grateful to Mr. Krauze!!!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sergio Gutierrez

    I was overcome with joy. Every chapter had its way of telling you just enough of Mexico's history to pull you in. The enormous weight of responsibility put on the shoulders of peasants is wrestled between the have and have-nots. Mexico is just beginning. Myths and legends are a thing of the past but find their way back to the present.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lawrence Carrington

    A fascinating trek through Mexico's history, starting with the struggle for Independence in 1810 and continuing to recent times (1996) with the financial crisis, Zapatista army, and last but not least, the transformation of the PRI.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jesus Valencia

    Over all, a nice book. Enrique Krause seems all too generous to the PRI. Very redundant with th.w revolution history. Too kind to Salinas and, Diaz Ordáz. Too long a book, perhaps some due to the translation. I'm not buying more of his stories.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Yes. This took me almost 2 and a half years to read. Yes. If I started reading it again tomorrow it would almost be like reading it the first time. But it was so worthwhile and interesting and (20 years later) I appreciate what a big freaking deal Vicente Fox becoming president really was.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nicolas Van Der Haar

    While a twinge outdated but still a delightful read into Mexican Culture and Politics.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Evans

    APA Citation: Krauze, E. (1998). Mexico: Biography of Power. New York, NY: Harper Collins. Call Number: Ref 972.04 Description: This biography provides information about the leaders of Mexico from 1810-1996. Relevance and Relationship: This work, although now somewhat dated, provides information about Mexico’s leadership. This work questions the future of leadership in Mexico. Purpose: This work provides information about the leaders of Mexico from an inside perspective. The three volumes provide a d APA Citation: Krauze, E. (1998). Mexico: Biography of Power. New York, NY: Harper Collins. Call Number: Ref 972.04 Description: This biography provides information about the leaders of Mexico from 1810-1996. Relevance and Relationship: This work, although now somewhat dated, provides information about Mexico’s leadership. This work questions the future of leadership in Mexico. Purpose: This work provides information about the leaders of Mexico from an inside perspective. The three volumes provide a deep insight into the leaders and the history surrounding them. Validity: This work is written by a native of the country who has done his research. This work includes source notes. Format: This biography is divided into sections based on the time period. This work presents the history of leadership in Mexico in each of the biography entries. Arrangement and History: This work includes a Table of Contents, a Preface, and an Index. This work contains a lot of illustrations as well. This work is useful as a history. Diversity: This work will be of interest to those studying history or particularly those studying leadership in Mexico. This work will also be of interest to those who are curious or want a greater insight into Mexico’s leadership. Professional Review: Thomas, H. (1997). After the Revolution. New Republic, 217(10/11), 38-41.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dan De Leon

    I love nonfiction, but I rarely read biographies. Having said that, this book was outstanding. After spending six weeks in Cuernavaca and in surrounding indigenous villages studying with the Center for Global Education last year, Mexico: Biography of Power put meat on the bones of my experiential learning. Krauze does a remarkable job of blending the sociopolitical elements of Mexico with folkloric storytelling that gives character and depth to the men (unfortunately rarely, if ever, to women in I love nonfiction, but I rarely read biographies. Having said that, this book was outstanding. After spending six weeks in Cuernavaca and in surrounding indigenous villages studying with the Center for Global Education last year, Mexico: Biography of Power put meat on the bones of my experiential learning. Krauze does a remarkable job of blending the sociopolitical elements of Mexico with folkloric storytelling that gives character and depth to the men (unfortunately rarely, if ever, to women in the machismo patriarchal context of Mexican history)placed in precarious positions of power in tenuous moments throughout the country's history. I have to confess that it did take me about five months to read this book, but that is mainly because in order to give Krauze's writing its due, one must take time to digest and process each chapter. As Robert L. Bartley of the WSJ writes, "[Mexico: Biography of Power] will stand for many years as the standard history of postcolonial Mexico."

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shawn

    "Mexico: a Biography of Power" tells the history of Mexico by profiling each of Mexico's national leaders--dedicating a chapter to each one--since 1810. Although they subjects are mainly presidents, political leaders like Emiliano Zapata are also included. The book is a great introduction to the presidents and leaders of Mexico since 1810. I knew nothing of Mexican history and had no trouble understanding what was going on. Krauze provides just enough background information to keep novices like "Mexico: a Biography of Power" tells the history of Mexico by profiling each of Mexico's national leaders--dedicating a chapter to each one--since 1810. Although they subjects are mainly presidents, political leaders like Emiliano Zapata are also included. The book is a great introduction to the presidents and leaders of Mexico since 1810. I knew nothing of Mexican history and had no trouble understanding what was going on. Krauze provides just enough background information to keep novices like me up to speed. The book is not an academic work: there are no citations and plenty of biased opinion. However, the leaders mostly are portrayed in grey tones: most do not come off as out-and-out villains or heroes.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Luis Orozco

    This book is almost 20 years old, and as a Mexican history geek I had been thinking about reading it since then. I can't say many history books moved me to tears. Mexico needs a Ruiz Cortines instead of a Peña Nieto right now. I would love to hear the author's take on the botched democratic transition of the country.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bailey

    Best history of modern Mexico that I found.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Madeline R

    A GREAT analysis of Mexican history. I've never made it all the way through . . . let's see if I can do it this time.

  29. 4 out of 5

    J Moragoda

    Excellent history of Mexico from the revolution onwards. Reads like a novel as the main actors that arose from colonial times were a fascinating bunch. Great title.

  30. 4 out of 5

    graycloud rios

    eye opening look at mexican politics over the years. if you want to know why mexico is in the position it is today, it is best to understand what has happened before.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.