A scholarly analysis of the Mexican Revolution that focuses on how innovations in military economy and tactics resulted in social change.
In this second installment in a trilogy, Janssens shifts away from an examination of the defense establishment during the Mexican Revolution and tackles the consequences of the Federal Army’s thorough destruction. In response to the challenge posed by the swelling ranks of the Constitutionalists, the Federal Army staged a massive mobilization of its own, but it was ill-suited to the task. It was wedded to an 18th-century European model of an army run by an officer corps of ersatz nobility, so its large-scale recruitment degraded the overall quality of its troops and undercut its claim to superiority. By contrast, the Constitutionalists effectively built a considerable citizen army, and they had to devise an economic strategy to sustain it through the war. In short, they had to create a sophisticated fiscal policy—replete with taxations schemes, business interests, and even currency—that allowed them to compete with an army backed by a sovereign nation. Janssens is keenly interested in the social impact of the Federal Army’s demise; not only did it undermine the mystique of professional military service and replace it with a more egalitarian model, he says, but it also produced a new brand of soldier that was more entrepreneurial than aristocratic. As in the first volume, the author ably repudiates Marxist historiography that overemphasizes the American influence on the war, which he says was largely operational and tactical rather than material. Also, Janssens’ investigative research is again breathtakingly scrupulous and his defiance of prevailing opinion remains impressive. This is an academic monograph for specialists, as the arguments are far too minutely detailed and dense to be accessible to laypeople. That said, the author spectacularly succeeds in connecting the conclusion of the war to the end of a certain species of militarism. Moreover, he continues to back up his plausible claim that the Mexican Revolutionary War had wide-ranging social and economic ramifications. As a result, this bracingly original and authoritative volume is sure to become a fixture of scholarly debate.
An uncommon blend of military
analysis and sociological history.