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Santa Anna of Mexico Paperback – November 1, 2009
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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.
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.
For a Gringo attempting to comprehend Mexican history, of what became of our one-half and the resulting remainder, Santa Anna is the preeminent figure, and yet slandered, misunderstood, relegated to backwaters and blamed for all vanished glory. Mr. Fowler portrays him as the man of his times, an opportunist, great and tragic at once, and explains his life and times role in a manner that no other author I've read has achieved. Other figures who move out and in through Mexico's transmogrifying soul play their oft-changing roles, too, and IT, the history of that great nation, at last made sense. And through Mr. Fowler's study, which is more of a novel in holding one's interest, but pure history at its finest, ends with Santa Anna's death on the year of the US Centennial, one comes to comprehend what has occurred since with our Neighbor to the South.
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The true Santa Anna has been lost due to a shroud of misinformation and outright...Read more