Mexico, says Smart, ""was and still is a country in which personal relations are more important than political allegiance"". In this context, Smart explains why Benito Juarez, ""a born political executive,"" merits a better reputation than that ascribed to him for the past hundred years. Juarez, President of Mexico from the time of the War of the Reform until his death in 1872, helped forge the Constitution of 1857, ""a standard and a symbol"" of the rights liberal Mexicans wished to see actualized in their society. Smart believes that even when Juarez acted extra-constitutionally, be regretted it, and events proved him more than justified in having done so. French nonarchical designs and their effect on the American Civil War, and the fiscal problems involved in any attempt to erect constitutional government in an underdeveloped country are like a complex mosaic into which fit glimpses of Juarez the private and the public figure. Lerdo, Santa Anna, Maximilian, and Porfirio Diaz, Seward and Lincoln are duly given their places in the story. The author has translated extracts from Juarez' diary and letters, as well as the complete text -- available for the first time in English--of Notes for My Children, a commentary on his early career written by Juarez later in life.