Mexicans in Revolution, 1910-1946
University of Nebraska Press 2009
It’s shocking and embarrassing how little I, as an American, know about Mexican history. Mexico shares a 2,000 mile long border with the United States. Mexico is America’s third largest trading partner (behind Canada–about which I also know nothing–and China). Over 20 million people in the U.S. say they are of “Mexican descent.” But all I can tell you about Mexican history is that the Aztecs built some really impressive pyramids, then the Spanish took over, then the Mexicans threw the Spanish out, then “we” beat the Mexicans and grabbed a bunch of their territory, then there was a confusing period involving France, and then Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata did some revolutionary stuff. The only phrase that comes to mind when I think of the period that followed–1910 to the present–is “illegal aliens.” My ignorance is just pathetic (not to mention irresponsible). So I was really happy when William H. Beezley told me that he and Colin M. MacLachlan had written a kind of primer on the Mexican history in the first half of the twentieth-century. Beezley’s Mexicans in Revolution, 1910-1946 (University of Nebraska Press, 2009) is a model of concision and clarity. Beezleyand MacLachlan do more with less better than almost any historian I know. I’ve tried my hand at this “boil-it-all-down” genre of historical writing, so I can tell you that it’s tough to pull off successfully (not that I did). Beezley and MacLachlan do. I recommend this short introduction to any American who doesn’t know enough about the origins of modern Mexico. If all so-benighted Americans bought a copy, Mexicans in Revolution, 1910-1946 would sell something on the order of 250 million copies. Bill and Colin have their fingers crossed, and so do I.
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