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Manana Forever?: Mexico and the Mexicans Paperback – April 17, 2012
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“Castañeda presents an impassioned and erudite case for a rethinking of old Mexican habits. His background makes him especially well positioned to explain his native land to an international audience.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A revolutionary book about Mexico. . . . I never thought I would read a book by a Mexican that acknowledges that Mexicans have more to gain in venturing to America than U.S. dollars.” —Richard Rodriguez, The San Francisco Chronicle
“A lively and perceptive analysis of Mexican society. . . . [Castañeda] is an unusual and important voice in Mexico.” —The Economist
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Top Customer Reviews
Nonetheless, Castaneda is a keen observer of Mexico's political environment and offers a unique perspective, having served as foreign minister under President Fox in addition to his many years as an academic in both Mexico and the U.S. With his liberal and progressive background, Castaneda was an odd appointment for the right-of-center Fox, but his inclusion in the Fox cabinet is clear from Manana Forever. Castaneda's passion is democracry, with a small "d," and he views the development of a viable two-party system in Mexico as imperative for Mexico to forever advance beyond "third world" status.
Despite its shortcomings, Manan Forever is probably the most candid discussion of the current state of Mexican politics from a Mexican perspective, as opposed to observations from political scientists and analysts outside the country. While a number of Castaneda's generalities deserve to be challenged, he succeeds in building a solid case for urgent changes in Mexico's political structure for the nation to finally emerge from its "Manana Forever" mindset.
Castañeda continues the tradition of attributing endless negative value orientations to Mexicans as he gives credence to highly-suspect and controversial views that are rejected by most economists and other social scientists.Read more ›
For example, Castañeda cites excessive individualism as one of the counter-productive national character traits. As evidence for its existence in Mexico, he points to a preference among Mexico City residents for low-rise housing rather than skyscrapers, thereby making the city sprawling, congested, and polluted. While he does concede that Mexico City is in an earthquake zone, I think the apparent lack of high-rise residential buildings is better explained by the (past) availability of cheaper land on the outskirts of the city along with a lack of central planning in the face of a strong and steady stream of immigration rather than excessive individualism among the city's residents. And does sprawl really tell us something unique about Mexico? Most Americans choose not to live in residential high-rises either. I wouldn't consider Manhattan to be particularly communally-oriented or civic-minded. And probably even less so than a village in rural Chiapas.Read more ›
Castaneda's method is to identify key Mexican character traits, review the current situation of a particular factor such as politics in a democracy, and then compare the two. In the end he uses the millions of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the United States as a "control group" against which to discuss whether or not Mexican attitudes can change in relation to the factors that make up today's reality in Mexico.
For example, Castaneda discusses the average Mexican's attitude towards the rule-of-law, which is ambivalent at best. He discusses how the attitude developed and what that character trait is today. To do this he uses the best available polling data from a wide variety of sources. While acknowledging that the data are incomplete, and that polls are relatively new phenomena in Mexico, he pulls together some interesting threads that paint a relatively accurate picture of the Mexican people. Castaneda then goes into a description of how the Mexican legal system functions on paper and in reality. (Of course, as the author notes, the relative lack of interest in the "rule of law" does not mean it's a lawless state, only that there are traditions that allow Mexico to function in a different way than the rule-of-law.) At the end of the book, the author then addresses how well Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the US accept the rule of law, both in attitude and reality.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Geat Book! I was quite impressed and learned a lot, and demystified various cultural, political and economic aspects of Mexico. Read morePublished 2 months ago by fjbsnr1
Great book, really interesting information and pints of view.Published 6 months ago by Joel Aguilar
A boring book about a hapless or perhaps feckless people seemingly incapable of curing the corruption which permeates their society. Read morePublished 8 months ago by BayanX
This is a book which every Mexican, and every American, should read. Castañeda gets almost everything right. I quarrel only with his evaluation of B.H. Read morePublished 8 months ago by David L. Davies
Dry prose, sentences oddly constructed in an attempt to sound pretentiously intellectual (a common mistaken ploy of academics who are unsure of themselves) and content somewhat... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Jack Coelho
Very interesting book from Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Relations during the Vicente Fox administration. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Eddie