CONVERSATIONS WITH MOCTEZUMA: Ancient Shadows Over Modern Life in Mexico by Dick J. Reavis

CONVERSATIONS WITH MOCTEZUMA: Ancient Shadows Over Modern Life in Mexico

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Critical but deeply respectful view of Mexico, focused on the continuing influence of indigenous culture. To Texas Monthly editor Reavis, Mexico ""is a cultural battleground. . .with a European upper layer and an Indo-American base."" His sympathies are largely with Modern Life in Mexico the common people, whose ""nostalgic and fatalistic outlook. . .I take to be wisdom."" His four chapters read like separate magazine articles and vary in quality: a look at the unsuccessful grass-roots attempt to shut down a nuclear power plant; visits with a local reformer to the northern industrial city of Monterrey, where he remains cleareyed while avoiding sweeping condemnations as he covers election fraud, bribery, the extraordinarily complex system of apportioning power and representation, and recent partially successful challenges to the ruling PRI party--an account that may lose the average reader but probably provides one of the best explanations of Mexican electoral politics and constitutional law available in the US. There's also a fascinating chapter on how working people live and on the causes and course of guerrilla activity, built around Reavis' longtime friendship with a frustrated, educated Zapotec Indian from Oaxaca; and a lackluster report of visits to Maya ruins in the Yucatan jungle. Uneven, but still superior to much recent writing about Mexico; especially valuable for the discussion (and partial debunking) of recent much-heralded political changes and the close look at ordinary individuals caught between ancient and modern cultures and economies.

Pub Date: Feb. 26th, 1989
Publisher: Morrow