Donald F. Stevens
offers us a portrait of early republican life in his new book, Mexico in the Time of Cholera
, published in 2019 by the University of New Mexico Press. Although Stevens uses the 1833 Cholera epidemic that devastated independent Mexico as his his point of departure, this is not primarily a medical history.
Beginning with the suggestion of a contemporary observer that the epidemic put Mexicans on their best, or at least most religiously fervent behavior, Stevens asks how we might be able to measure everyday piety during a time of transition and crisis. His answer comes from following archival trails within parish records, novels, and memoirs and offers readers a glimpse of intimate urban life. In so doing, his book brings to life the day to day practices of Mexicans from birth and naming practices to death and burial norms and shows a country coming to terms with its independence. Students and scholars alike will enjoy following vibrant historical figures like fifteen-year-old Concha, navigating potential suitors with the help of parents and priests as well as unraveling the mystery of why a US-born bootmaker was murdered in Mexico City during a religious progression.
Donald Stevens is an Associate Professor of History at Drexel University and an assistant editor for the journal the Americas. He is the author of Origins of Instability in Early Republican Mexico by Duke University Press and editor of, Based on a True Story: Latin American History at the Movies.
Elena McGrath is Assistant Professor of History at Union College in Schenectady. She is a historian of 20th century Bolivia.