Rink concentrates on the years between Padre Hidalgo's earth-shaking grito of 1810 to the short, ill-starred reign of Agostin de Iturbide which marked New Spain's emergence from Spanish rule. This first stage of the Mexican revolution is more often celebrated than investigated at this level, and even here events are highly condensed as the author channels his energies into developing some perspective on the ""Black Legend"" of the conquistadors, the belated arrival of Enlightenment ideas in Spain's empire, and the relationship of Hidalgo et al. to independence struggles in the rest of Latin America. The concept is a needed corrective to all those histories which tend to treat Mexico's history in isolation. Even the sketchy execution here--a few pages on Bolivar and de San Martin, passing mention but not analysis of Spain's backwardness--has some supplemental value and the brief portrait of the neglected Hidalgo helps fill a gap.