A rich mosaic of culture, history, economics, and politics. (180 b&w photos, 16 pages color, not seen)



A comprehensive, generously illustrated chronicle of Mexican history from conqueror Cortés to singer Selena.

Following their lucid introduction, editors Meyer (History/Univ. of Arizona) and Beezley (History/Univ. of Arizona) divide their engaging text into five major chronological sections, offering a total of 20 essays written by an impressive cast of experts on a wide variety of subjects. They begin with an analysis of the 16th-century Spanish customs and cultural assumptions that Cortés and his men brought with them to the New World. A fine chapter on the native Mayan, Aztec, and other Mesoamerican cultures follows. Next is a description of the collision of the two worlds that reveals how Cortés was able to succeed against sheer numbers because of his ability to divide the Indians politically. Subsequent chapters deal with the growth of New Spain, the uniquely Mexican character that Catholicism assumed in the region (“the combination of African and native traditions led to interesting religious forms”), and the struggle for Mexican independence (achieved in1821). Although Meyer and Beezley maintain a steady chronological progression, they also offer chapters on such subjects as disease and ecology, relations with the US, and the arts (especially interesting are the accounts of Diego Rivera and of Mexico’s other celebrated muralists). All the contributors are particularly adept at viewing well-known events from Mexican perspectives (the Battle of the Alamo, for example, consumes barely a sentence in Christon Archer’s damning evaluation of President Santa Anna as “the principal inhabitant even today of Mexico’s black pantheon of those who failed the nation”). The disastrous 1846–48 war with the US receives its due, as do the exploits of Juárez, Maximilian, Zapata, and Villa. Later essays deal with the emergence of Mexico as a modern state and its struggles to develop an economy sufficiently robust to provide for its impoverished segments.

A rich mosaic of culture, history, economics, and politics. (180 b&w photos, 16 pages color, not seen)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-19-511228-8

Page Count: 639

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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