Customer Reviews


28 Reviews
5 star:
 (16)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Minor Classic on Mexico and Mexicans
For too many Americans, Mexico is terra incognita. Even most U.S. visitors have only partial impressions of this vast and variegated country based on a quick trip to the border, a holiday in Cancun, or a brief stopover in Mexico City. To make Mexico less of a distant neighbor for Americans, Alan Riding has written a superb, highly readable synthesis of Mexican...
Published on September 28, 2000 by Carlos Mejia

versus
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some insights, somewhat obsolete and condensed history
The book does offer excellent insights into the workings of the PRI and Mexican culture, particularly from 1960-1985, a period glossed over by other texts. However, with the emergence of Fox and PAN, its observations do not reflect Mexico's current profile. If you're seeking an understanding of Mexican history pre-1960, "Mexico: A Biography of Power" offers a...
Published on October 28, 2002 by Bradley K. Stilwell


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Minor Classic on Mexico and Mexicans, September 28, 2000
By 
Carlos Mejia (Silver Spring, Maryland USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans (Paperback)
For too many Americans, Mexico is terra incognita. Even most U.S. visitors have only partial impressions of this vast and variegated country based on a quick trip to the border, a holiday in Cancun, or a brief stopover in Mexico City. To make Mexico less of a distant neighbor for Americans, Alan Riding has written a superb, highly readable synthesis of Mexican psychology, history, politics, social issues, and regional diversity. Sure, "Distant Neighbors" is a bit dated at 16 years old, but it's still well worth reading today.
The first chapter is a lucid description of national character to rival Thucydides or de Tocqueville. Mexicans may object to Riding's stereotypes but he's dead-on 95% of the time. Equally insightful is the way he deals with social issues (land, Indians, social well-being, and the family) and regional diversity. These six incisive chapters get to the heart of the nation's urgent problems and survey the country's dramatic contrasts. The historical and political sections are models of brevity and perspicuity. Even though the Mexican political system has changed out of all recognition since 1984, Mexico will be a long time dealing with, coming to terms with, or ridding itself of the 71-year legacy of one-party rule that Riding describes so well.
Of course, every book has its weaknesses. The last chapter, a sort of "whither Mexico" postscript, should be read as an object lesson on the pitfalls of prognostication. The chapter on Central America is interesting but irrelevant. Although the overview of U.S.-Mexico relations provides good historical background, NAFTA has overthrown most of Riding's judgments on that score. The economy and culture sections are lucid but superficial.
In sum, I highly recommend "Distant Neighbors" as a first-rate work of formidable breadth and depth written with exceptional grace and edited with meticulous care (amazingly, I couldn't find a single solecism).
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prophetic!, April 4, 2001
By 
Joel Quezada (Chihuahua, Chih, México) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans (Paperback)
I bought and read this book twice in a time span of ten years. I was fascinated since I read it the first time. Being a mexican, Distant Neighbors provided me with insight from a foreigners perspective. It is not a plain book and can not be differet. As Mr. Riding explains so clearly, mexicans complexity and contradictions are due to the mixture of occidental and indian concepts.
I can see myself in this book.
In practice, the author speculates, the PRI would not survive in a democratic environment without provoking its own destruction. In theory it would have to change so much to the point of becoming unrecognizable. As I write this line, the PRI is in such stages! The words of Alan Riding are becoming a prophecy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Captivating, March 15, 2001
This review is from: Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans (Paperback)
I had to read this book as part of a foreign study program in Cuernavaca, Mexico. It is a brilliant social history of the perception on the Mexican people. Our educational system is built around a brief New World history on top of an extensive European tradition; unfortunately the lands south of our borders generally aren't a part of our perception of history.
Alan Riding makes this very plain early on in the book; in the first paragraph, he states, "..nowhere in the world do two neighbors understand each other so little. More than by levels of development, [these] two countries are separated by language, religion, race, philosophy and history."
Perhaps Riding can summarize his own purpose best when he wrote that "the purpose of this book is to make Mexico more accessible to non-Mexicans. It is inspired not by a desire to expose the country's vulnerabilities, but by the belief that Mexico would be served if better understood by its northern neighbor."
If you're interested in putting Mexico in a perspective complimentary to your boiler-plate knowledge of world history, read this book. After you read it, your mind will begin to "look south" when examining issues close to home (especially if you live near the US-Mexican border).
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book if you are moving to Mexico!, May 23, 2000
This review is from: Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans (Paperback)
I am surprised that people seem to be critical of Alan Riding's excellent work. The key here is an objectivity that is so seldom seen in this type of work. This is not a travel guide...it is a guide to understanding the differences that are real, profound, and do exist between two cultures. I was able to enjoy Riding's book as I purchased it shortly after moving to Mexico to work in 1993. It helped me so much that I have loaned copies (yes I have purchased more than one copy) and given them to visitors and other ex-pats working in Mexico. I am a Canadian citizen who is married to a Mexican citizen. This book has not only helped me understand Mexicans it has helped my marriage too! It is not Mr. Riding's place to critique or spew contempt for the PRI party, he merely provides the truth and lets the reader make up their mind. As far as Mexican people enjoying this book, I have passed it for review and commentary to Mexicans of all social classes and they all enjoyed the book and offered little in the way of unfavorable reviews. I have read Octavio Paz and the Labyrinth of Solitude and it is very introspective but very subjective. Riding may not be a poet, but he is also not a Mexican author who is subjectively speaking for an entire population. Alan Riding is a keen observer and he presents the facts! Read it and make up your own mind!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book, October 31, 2000
This review is from: Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans (Paperback)
As someone who has lived in Mexico, studied the country for over 15 years, and now teaches classes on Mexico, let me say that Riding's book is a classic. I have yet to find a single volume that offers so many insights into the country. Each chapter focuses on a different topic (e.g., the economy, the political system, culture, Mexico City, the indigenous communities, etc.) and each are readable apart from the others... There is an entire chapter, "Corruption: Oil and Glue," devoted to the corrupt nature of the political system.
The most biting "criticism" that can be leveled against this book is that it has become outdated. Chapters on the economy and the political system are obviously out of date. Significant economic, political, and social changes have taken place. But if you want to read ONE book on Mexico to understand the context for change today, you would be hard pressed to find a selection...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book in English about Mexico and Mexicans., September 7, 2003
This review is from: Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans (Paperback)
The Rocky Point (Puerto Penasco) Times calls this the best book in English about Mexico. The only reason I didn't rate it 5 stars was some of the history. It needs someone to do an update of Fox's Presidency and Commandante Marcos.
Growing up in New York, it was just a facsination. I now live in Tucson, Arizona. The border is an hour away. Distant Neighbors is an apt description. American and Mexicans talk past each other without really hearing each other. His best chapters? The beginning chapters about how the Mexican nation was born and the later chapters about the different regions of this diverse country. Distant Neighbors is my guide to start exploring beyond Nogales.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book sets the standard, February 21, 2001
By 
Thomas D. Nares (Carlsbad, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans (Paperback)
Distant Neighbors sets the standard by which all books about the Mexican "experience" should be judged. Having read the works of Carlos Fuentes (my favorite author and intellectual), Jorge Castañeda and Octavio Paz, giants all to be sure, I have yet to to read a book that conveys to the uninformed regarding what it is to be Mexican, better than Distant Neighbors.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Background, December 27, 1999
By 
Sarah Gordon (Mexico City, Mexico) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans (Paperback)
I really liked the book. I thought it provided a great overview of Mexican society and the Mexican personality, yet even more interesting was his descriptions within a historical context. Of course, you must keep from applying the personality descriptions in a stereotypical way, yet I thought the perspectives were helpful in understanding society as a whole. Several friends of mine in the US and Mexico have read it and felt it was an interesting overview of Mexico.
My only frustration with the book is that it is so outdated, and Mexico has changed so much since the early 80's, that one is left wondering how his perspective might have changed with the events of the recent past.
I would recommend this book to anyone as a basic introduction. I would begin your understanding of Mexico with this book, but I would also pursue deeper and more modern perspectives on Mexico as well.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some insights, somewhat obsolete and condensed history, October 28, 2002
By 
This review is from: Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans (Paperback)
The book does offer excellent insights into the workings of the PRI and Mexican culture, particularly from 1960-1985, a period glossed over by other texts. However, with the emergence of Fox and PAN, its observations do not reflect Mexico's current profile. If you're seeking an understanding of Mexican history pre-1960, "Mexico: A Biography of Power" offers a far more thorough and rewarding read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Distant Neighbors - A Portrait of the Mexicans, August 31, 2000
By 
This review is from: Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans (Paperback)
The book was given to me as a gift when I first started working in Mexico in 1992. I found it extremely insightful. It helped me understand better what drives the morals, values and thought processes of the Mexican people. Over the years I have purchased many copies and given them away as gifts to friends who traveled to Mexico for work. This is NOT a travel guide. This book is for the person who will be considerable time with the Mexican people. This is for someone who is willing to invest time and deep thought to better understand what drives these beautiful loving people.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans
Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans by Alan Riding (Paperback - October 23, 1989)
$19.95 $15.80
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.