Most Helpful First | Newest First
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping true history of the Maya resistance,
This review is from: Caste War of Yucatan (Paperback)I'm the author of books and articles about Mexico, Cancun and the Yucatan Peninsula. I've lived in Cancun since 1983 and I find the The Caste War of Yucatan by Nelson Reed the most useful and fascinating book about this area.
The modern history of the North American continent began here in Quintana Roo, the site of the first Spanish landing on the mainland. The story of Quintana Roo is the story of Mexico in miniature. Nelson Reed's book is by far the most authoritative history of Quintana Roo ever published in English.
Although closely focused on the Maya rebellion that began in 1847 and continued well into the 20th Century, The Caste War of Yucatan presents a sensitive, accurate and comprehensive picture of the entire history of the Yucatan Peninsula, with many important insights into the history of Mexico as well.
Meticulously researched but written in a gripping narrative style that reads like a popular novel, this book is entertaining, horrifying, sad and always profoundly fascinating. Very highly recommended.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Caste War of Yucatan,
This review is from: The Caste War of Yucatan [Revised Edition] (Paperback)Nelson Reed's "Caste War of Yucatan" tells the story of an obscure Maya rebellion in Mexico in the 1840's with vigor and a style that makes this history come alive. This is a history that most Yucatecan ladinos didn't want told for many years. But in a masterful way, Reed has put life into one of the most interesting corners of the history of the Americas...the only successful native American rebellion...one that ended in disaster for all concerned.
The story covers the 53 year struggle of the communities of Yucatec Maya that rebelled against intolerable oppression in 1847 and whose events snowballed to an all out race war which raged on and off until its flame was finally extinguished due more to illness and exhaustion than to the resolve of the participants. This gripping tale of battles and desperation has enough horror and action to cause the reader to ponder who these Maya are that today greet the Cancun visitors with warm smiles and hospitality.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dirty Little Secret,
This review is from: The Caste War of Yucatan [Revised Edition] (Paperback)This is truely one of the very few books available on the Caste War of Mexico.It is painstaking researched and a must read!
What happened to the Maya? Why does Southern Mexico has a revolt every five or so years.Why is this item "buried", if noted at all, in the back pages of our newspapers. This Caste War is still present even today.
You must think that the Magnificant Maya built great cities and then simply vanished- but did they? All the way back to Santa Anna(of the Alamo and San Jacinto )the Mayan People have been brutalized and mistreated by their own Government. Yet there is little information on this dark side of History.
Here at last is THE consumate book detailing this dark time.The pent up repercussions of years of shame,torture, and exploitation when they came were horrific. Let the book itself tell you-"A paralyzed curate was macheted in his hammoc; upper-class girls were stripped and raped before their helpless relatives. then tied spread-eagled to the grillwork of windows and mutilated.."
This is a must read to find out "the real story behind the story" of those glitzy tourist attractions. This is something that you will never hear! Curious?
Review by Bob Wolter
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A strange history of a strange people in a strange place at a strange epoch of Mexican history.,
This review is from: The Caste War of Yucatan [Revised Edition] (Paperback)I am fascinated by histories of the rebellions of technologically backward peoples with a mystic bent whom cannot understand and cope with what they view as the erosion of their traditional way of live by encroaching more powerful cultures or nations or their own elites; as the revolt of the "Canudos"in Brazil in the 19th cent., or the revolt of the "Cristos" in Mexico in the early 20th cent. In the Old World we have in China the Taiping and Boxer rebellions in the 19th cents. And in Africa the well known "Mahdist" revolt in the Sudan, late 19th cent. Of course there were many more lesser known rebellions throughout history such as the Anabaptist movements in Germany in the 16th cent.
What seems to define these movements is a millenarian, religious, mystical fervor with less than an overtly political agenda such as the agrarian peasant rebellion of the likes of Emiliano Zapata in Mexico and the pre-revolution Russian agrarian revolts of the early 20th cent. They are always founded and led by religious mystics.
This book covers very well that of Mayan revolt in Yucatan in the 19th cent. Years ago I spent much time in Yucatan, and though I traveled and lived in many parts of Latin America, Yucatan will always hold a unique and fond place in my memory. It seems to have a distinct, exotic, quaint strangeness about it that I cannot put into words.
I've read fairly extensively the history of Mexico and at times have come across passages that referred to the "Caste War in Yucatan" but with little other information which only tended to arouse my curiosity. Finally, one day while searching Amazon books I came across Nelson Reed's work and ordered it. This book has completely satisfied my curiosity on this subject as it is comprehensive in its scope, with a good background of concurrent events in Mexico to put it into perspective and a good history of the production of henequen and its marketing which brought about profound changes in the traditional fabric of Yucatecan society. At last this subject has been finally dealt with.
My only complaint, unjustly I suppose as I believe he is an archeologist by profession, is that I find the authors style of writing somewhat dry and vague at times. There is plenty of help in this book which includes five good maps, a glossary, a list of Maya religious and political leaders, and a chronology of events.
This book will be a welcome addition to the library of the student of Mexican history as well as the student of Latin American history in general and to those like me are fascinated by the reading of the history of millenarian movements worldwide.
This "Stanford" edition I purchased is of good quality.
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting and Written Well,
This review is from: The Caste War of Yucatan [Revised Edition] (Paperback)This concises and well written book is a fine narrative of a very interesting and revealing episode in Mexican history - the Caste War of Yucatan. The original edition was published decades ago and updated more recently. This book touches on several of the most important features of modern Mexican history. These include the collapse of traditional colonial society, the impact of 19th century liberalism and engagement with the world economy, the struggles between centralism and regionalism, local conflicts, the frequent and usually one-sided conflicts between native communities and Ladinos, and the difficult Mexican relationship with the USA.
The base of the Caste War was the historic subjugation of the native Maya of the Yucatan to European descended Ladinos. With the breakdown of colonial society, increasing commericalization of agriculture in the Yucatan, and erosion of some traditional communal privileges by the increasingly liberal Mexican state and economy, many Mayans were subjected to even greater degrees of exploitation. in the mid-19th century, conflicts between centralizing tendencies and regionalism led to recurrent civil wars in Mexico. Exacerbated by the Mexican-American War, the general decline of state power in the Yucatan and the increasing involvement of Mayans in the civil conflicts led eventually to a Mayan revolt. Initially quite successful, the Caste War proper ended in a stalemate with Ladinos maintaining control of the western Yucatan and the Mayans dominating the eastern parts of the peninsula. This stalemate lasted for decades and was terminated only by the relatively pwerful Diaz regime at the turn of the 19th century.
In the most interesting part of the book, Reed shows that the successful Mayan resistance and de facto state of the latter half of the 19th century was centered around a syncretic religious movement that incorporated both Mayan and Catholic elements. Reed argues that this religion provided the ideological cement and governmental structure for successful resistance. The Diaz's regime conquest of this state ushered in a huge expansion of hennequen (sisal) production for the US market and a remarkable degree of exploitation of the Maya.
5.0 out of 5 stars What You Didn't Learn in High School (or collage) History Class,
This review is from: The Caste War of Yucatan [Revised Edition] (Paperback)This is the basic and best history of the Maya from 1940 through 1902. Great writing and great research. If you want to know what happened to the Maya during their clash with Mexican culture during this period you must read this book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book,
This review is from: The Caste War of Yucatan [Revised Edition] (Paperback)Bought and read this book for two reason, i love everything Maya and i wanted to know how much pushing it takes before people start to fight back. This book satisfied both. Read this book if your planning a trip there or you've aready been. You'll see Cancun there different eyes... which is a good thing.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Detailed Analysis,
This review is from: The Caste War of Yucatan [Revised Edition] (Paperback)Having recently bought property on the Maya Riviera and interacting with the Mayan construction workers I am fascinated by their culture. I like to immerse myself in the local culture and learn all I can of my new neighbors both Mexican and Mayan. It was stated in a book that the Yucatan was uninhabitable by white people until into the 1900's. Therefore I thought it worth a look at this historical event, the Caste War.
This author did extensive research and he tried to include too much into the book. Rather than giving a summation of the war or providing a "big picture", this book quickly dives into every little campaign that there was some journal detailing. And this detail is very thorough. So don't get confused as to what you are reading, this is a detailed analysis, not a history book. This is a slow read and very confusing if you are not familiar with the names as they can be so similar on both sides of the conflict. So many characters and classes are fighting that it sometimes is confusing who is on what side particularly when they switch sides.
But in the end, you will learn a great deal about the land, he people, and how the peninsula developed including the Governor's offer to be taken over by the United States. There are significant discussions of the crops and religion of the Mayans as well. A new "gabacho" such as me identifies the region from Cancun or the Mayan Riviera while the early history is centered around Merida and the West Coast with the Mayans seeming to control the lower East Coast.
Overall, I achieved what I wanted: an understanding of the culture and how it developed. But most of what I enjoyed was in the early 1900s when he began to discuss the economic development particularly the rope material that controlled the economy, henequen (sp?). The book moves forward in this period through the 1960s and the author's first visit to the peninsula and finally to a return trip in the 1990s. In many respects, not much has changed.
This is a fascinating part of Mexico and has charming, hard-working people who are currently going through an economic change that may or may not be to the benefit of the traditional Mayan people and culture. Read this book if you want to know about the area but be prepared that this is not a light reading but rather in-depth. Definitely not something to read lightly on the beach.
0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The talking cross,
This review is from: The Caste War of Yucatan [Revised Edition] (Paperback)It is wrong that the Maya Indians had been abused since the Spaniards put a foot on this continent, but the Caste War showed a people that are savage, revengeful and that made the same atrocities as the Europeans: killed innocents, rape, killed prisoners...
Then the fake of the Cross that talks and told them to have a religious vendetta against the Europeans and its descendants, gave you a bad image of the exploited and abused Indians that were rebelling against years of sufferings and hunger. The book was written from the White man perspective and although it is based in historical data it let the Ideology of the writer to surface. That is not good for a history book...
Most Helpful First | Newest First
The Caste War of Yucatan [Revised Edition] by Nelson A. Reed (Paperback - July 1, 2002)