Most readers will not have the unwary reviewer's pleasure of discovering for themselves that this is a unique spoof. Very...

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FOR WANT OF A NAIL: A Dual History of the Confederation of North America and the United States of Mexico

Most readers will not have the unwary reviewer's pleasure of discovering for themselves that this is a unique spoof. Very ""scholarly"" written in perfect deadpan with elaborate footnotes, the book begins with a history of the American Revolution -- or rather failed rebellion -- after which a group under the leadership of Hamilton, Madison, Benedict Arnold, et al. emigrate to the Mexican territories and form the United States of Mexico with cotton slavery and a continental destiny. The Confederation of North America meanwhile proceeds to industrialize; there is the Rocky Mountain War between the two in the mid-19th century and a conflict with Russia over Yukon gold. Mexico, where the Anglos dominate the others, gets taken over by a vast Rockefellerish corporation; the U.S. -- that is, the ""C.N.A."" -- pulls itself out of depression by producing military supplies for a war it never enters; guilt becomes intense and an anti-rational, anti-materialistic movement grows. The book is quite brilliantly done, yet the exercise seems occasionally dull and ultimately rather pointless. Perhaps its ironies are too weak; perhaps the parody lacks enough bite. Readers will relish figuring out how they would have recast Anglo-American-Mexican history, how they would elaborate the foreign relations that remain sketchy here, and how the abundant economic material might have been used with more forceful satire. For both amateurs and practitioners of historiographic folderol. Sobel is an economics professor at Hofstra.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1972

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1972