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Santa Anna of Mexico Hardcover – December 1, 2007
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Faced with internal division as a result of provinces not yet fully integrated and external adversaries that lusted after territory and markets, Mexico's journey toward forging nation would be prolonged, painful and problematic. In Fowler's hands, Santa Anna emerges as a man of his time when Mexico was making this painful journey of trying to define herself as a nation and create a hegemonic state that could govern and at the same time defend its territorial integrity. Consequently, it was a time of experimentation or as Fowler states a time for varying proposals. During this "Age of Proposals", (for a detailed look at this era, see Fowler's Mexico in the Age of Proposals) Santa Anna was one of many struggling to find ways of assimilating heterogeneous cultures and integrating legitimate claims from Mexico's far-flung provinces under a suitable governing framework before they could construct a hegemonic state, construct (imagine) a unified social identity and truly forge a nation-state.
According to Fowler, Santa Anna was "not the power-crazed megalomaniac his critics made him out to be" and did not aspire to having absolute power.Read more ›
I learned more about the history of Mexico from this book, than I ever did in any case or other reference. Between 1810 and 1876, Mexico experimented with nearly every form of government possible, except for two - they didn't try an Absolute Democracy nor did they try a True Anarchy. Nearly all the various experiments were ended by military coups. There was even a protocol for how to declare a coup! One basic problem was that Mexico did not see itself as a national entity, and as a result local solutions were tried nationally.
The author argues that Santa Anna was a rather unusual person in the swirling mess that was Mexican politics. He both tried to be above political matters and debates, while also inserting himself as an arbitrator as often as he was able. He seemed to greatly prefer the military life to actually governing, although his ethics were those of his peers - he always looked out for his interests first. Still, he was a national figure and according to Fowler, sincere in his efforts to try of help Mexico - even if Mexico couldn't figure out how to help itself.
The true Santa Anna has been lost due to a shroud of misinformation and outright propaganda espoused by his enemies and those people who could not understand the intricacies of his decisions. Santa Anna was a man who often times faced impossible circumstances, and was forced to make decisions based upon subjective and conditional information with grave consequences to his public persona. His failures are not emphasized, nor are his achievements, but merely painted in context here as they should be.
All I can say is thanks to Fowler for this book, the shroud of lies has been lifted on Santa Anna, and an objective eye can finally be brought to bear on this topic.
This biography does paint a clear, honest portrait of Santa Anna. But I found the writing to be dense and had to force myself to slog through it. I was also disappointed that very little time was spent on the battles at the Alamo and San Jacinto. Davey Crockett is not even mentioned! Though Fowler does touch upon Santa Anna's strategy at the Alamo, and he also faults him for the defeat at San Jacinto--and thus the loss of Texas--I wanted more.
This is not a book I'd recommend.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A good read. Very well told. I learned a great deal about this central character in history.Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
Careful research for reporting accuracy….a lively read…..Published 17 months ago by Janine L Miller
Excellent read. What a life and what influence this man had and still has today even if most know very little about him. Read morePublished on June 12, 2013 by Brent Hiller
This is a great biography about a controversial character. In fact, I can recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about the time period in witch Santa Anna... Read morePublished on November 5, 2011 by Oliver Van Uytfange
I have meant to set down my thoughts of this scholarly work since it was first published and I'd the pleasure of its reading, but somehow time and opportunity slipped by. Read morePublished on March 8, 2010 by Roy K. Farber