Paul GillinghamSep 30, 2021
The Birth of a Strange Dictatorship
Yale University Press 2021
An essential history of how the Mexican Revolution gave way to a unique one-party state. In Unrevolutionary Mexico: The Birth of a Strange Dictatorship (Yale University Press, 2021), Paul Gillingham addresses how the Mexican Revolution (1910-1940) gave way to a capitalist dictatorship of exceptional resilience, where a single party ruled for seventy-one years. Yet while soldiers seized power across the rest of Latin America, in Mexico it was civilians who formed governments, moving punctiliously in and out of office through uninterrupted elections. Drawing on two decades of archival research, Gillingham uses the political and social evolution of the states of Guerrero and Veracruz as starting points to explore this unique authoritarian state that thrived not despite but because of its contradictions. Mexico during the pivotal decades of the mid-twentieth century is revealed as a place where soldiers prevented military rule, a single party lost its own rigged elections, corruption fostered legitimacy, violence was despised but decisive, and a potentially suffocating propaganda coexisted with a critical press and a disbelieving public.
Ethan Besser Fredrick is a graduate student in Modern Latin American history seeking his PhD at the University of Minnesota. His work focuses on the Transatlantic Catholic movements in Mexico and Spain during the early 20th century.