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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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Mexico: Biography of Power Paperback – June 3, 1998

4.7 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Krauze is a well-known Mexican literary and historical author who has worked with and written for the important Mexican magazine Vuelta since its inception. His well-translated work, originally published in Mexico as three separate volumes, offers a readable history of the country since independence in 1810. Krauze first identifies themes that permeate Mexican history, e.g., the concentration of power, the role of the church, and the importance of history to Mexicans, which he then elaborates on by relaying the history of Mexico through the biography of its leaders, primarily presidents. As a result, he offers rewarding insight into how Mexicans see their own history. A useful volume that will be of value to academic libraries and public libraries with an interest in Latin America.?Mark L. Grover, Brigham Young Univ., Provo, Ut.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Krauze offers a unique perspective of modern Mexico by interweaving the biographies of a number of consequential nineteenth-and twentieth-century leaders into a cohesive historical overview of the Mexican nation. Rooted in both Indian and Spanish cultures, the notion of the caudilloa leader granted an inordinate measure of respect and control--is one of the most pervasive elements and formative themes in Mexican custom and tradition. Arguing that these leaders have both reflected and influenced the shape and the direction of Mexican history, the author provides detailed accounts of the personal and professional lives of a variety of individual caudillos. An insightful examination of how this unbroken cycle of power has played a decisive role in the political and social history of Mexico. Margaret Flanagan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (June 3, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060929170
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060929176
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #355,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Antonio on April 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have to confess I haven't read the English version of this book. But if it's anywhere as good as the 3-volume Spanish version, it is probably excellent.
Mexico, particularly in Latin America, is a mythical country. It has always had a vibrant popular culture. In Colombia, it used to be said that the upper class aspired to be English, the middle class wanted to be American, and the lower class wished to be Mexican. This is no slight on Mexico, just a statement of its powerful pull over others. Amazingly, such an important country has never had such a strong historiography as much smaller ones, like Cuba. This has many reasons, one of them being that the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI), probably the most effective political party in history, was able to co-opt most intellectuals either with favors or intimidation.
Therefore, much Mexican history used to revel in a hagiographical version of its pre-Columbian splendor and to celebrate politically correct milestones, such as Hidalgo's cry, Juarez's victory over Maximilian or the 1911 revolution, while glossing over other important but more embarrasing episodes, such as Iturbide's empire, Santa Anna's 30 year reign that led to the less of the Northern half of the country to the US, Maximilian's closeness to Indian land rights (Indians in Mexico were never better treated than under Maximilian), the remarkably efficient Porfiriato (a 35 year-long dictatorship), or the extremely brutal aftermath of the revolution. This promoted a mythological self-view of Mexico that paved the ground for the economic catastrophe of Lopez Portillo and the political catastrophe of Salinas de Gortari.
For anyone interested in looking behind the cobwebs of official history and popular culture, Krauze is a Godsend.
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Format: Hardcover
Enrique Krauze has produced a superb introduction to Mexican history. His appraisals of various Mexican leaders are shrewd and always fair. However, the book suffers from two annoying shortcomings. First, the chapters are sometimes haphazardly organized and Krauze is not always successful at weaving the historical context into his biographical tapestry. Second, the fifth and final part (the last 59 pages) is superificial compared to the previous four parts; the book as a whole suffers as a result. Nonetheless, Krauze and his translator, Hank Heifetz, have created a vivid narrative that skillfully explicates the problems and complexities of Mexico's history within the covers of a single, albeit substantial, volume.
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Format: Paperback
If you know nothing about Mexican history and don't know where to begin, this is THE book to read. Mind you, it's a little too long but you won't be disappointed. It's very well written, it's fun, it's insightful, and has a no nonsense approach one appreciates after reading tons of biased harangues on the subject, both pro and con.
A MUST for any American, Mexican or Mexican-American who wants to learn about a country so often misunderstood by contempt, demagoguery, prejudice or simple plain ignorance.
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This is required reading for anyone who wants to understand modern Mexico and the (gradually improving) mess that it is in.

The book, a hefty 800 pages, is a combined English volume of three separate books by Enrique Krauze published in Spanish.

The translation by Hank Heifetz is superlative.

After touching on pre-1810 Mexican history, the book gets down to business after the Spanish have been tossed out on their collective keisters in that year.

We see the independent nation's early confusion as it lurched about for a few decades under inept leaders like its first "emperor," a joke named Iturbide, and then silly Santa Anna who bounced in and out of the presidential chair countless times, losing much of the nation's acreage to the better-organized and focused Americans. National Darwinism at work.

Benito Juarez was the first serious leader. And then the French tried to take over in the form of Emperor Max and his nutty wife, Carlota. That did not last long, thanks in great part to Juarez.

Finally, rising from the smoke and ashes, Porfirio Diaz brought some order and advancement to the nation for 30 years until his despotism too was shown the door, bringing on the Revolution in 1910. Diaz made it to Europe with his skin intact, but he died five years later.

The dates of the Mexican Revolution are not set in cement, depends on whom you ask. Nobody ever raised their fist, shot a Mauser shell into the clouds, and declared it done with.

Krauze sees it lasting longer than most observers, putting the end date around 1940. You could make an argument that it really did not end until 2000 when Democracy finally bloomed with the open election of President Fox of the longtime opposition party known as the PAN.
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I prefer this excellent history of Mexico to other published histories for many reasons, not the least of which is that it was written by a leading Mexican intellectual, in Spanish. Here we have an insider's perspective, a history written by someone who not only knows it first hand, but actually FEELS it. You won't find that insightful, intuitive quality in the books written by Fehrenbach or Miller.

In English translation, the quality of the language is superb. From the preface, through the first few chapters, you become aware of the author's prodigious analytical and rhetorical skills. He also commits to maintaining a relatively swift narrative, and the text never disintegrates into dry academia.

The main body of the text concentrates on the lives of Mexico's many leaders from 1810 to 1994, but it would be wrong to suggest that this is the TOPIC of the book. Really, the book attempts to define what it means to be Mexican through the ambitions, successful or otherwise, of the people strong or lucky enough to lead the country. It covers all of Mexican history, roughly from conquest to modern times, but with relatively less emphasis on the Spanish colonial period. And though it isn't a feature topic in the content of the book, the author skillfully introduces us to the foundation of independent Mexico through the cultural, religious and economic history of New Spain.

Here's an insightful history of Mexico that reads beautifully and entertains as well as instructs. While not exactly beach reading, I would highly recommend this book for people with more than a casual (tourist) interest in Mexican history.
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