Some provocative side notes on why the US did not annex Mexico—something that, Henderson observes, some gringos call for...



The US went to war against Mexico in 1846 for territory pure and simple. But why, asks Henderson (History/Auburn Univ.), did Mexico go to war against the US?

The answers are suggestive—and valuable, inasmuch as the great majority of books on that war have not bothered to ask how the Mexicans felt about the enterprise. Henderson looks at Mexico’s economic and social conditions: Independent of Spain 45 years after the US declared independence from England, the nation inherited a wholly different approach to the law, the market and daily life from that of its northern neighbor, in particular the belief in mercantilism, a strongly planned central economy that specifically favored the rich. When Santa Anna took his troops to Texas to suppress the rebellion of a decade earlier, he had to pay for them out of pocket, since the federal treasury was all but bankrupt; yet, of course, his position allowed him to become a millionaire many times over, even by modern standards. Mexico’s economic weakness, writes Henderson, was matched by difficult politics pitting pro-Enlightenment liberals against pro-Catholic conservatives, the handful of moderates enjoying almost no influence. All parties agreed, in principle, that a war against the US was inevitable; as a noted general observed as early as 1827, “The North Americans have conquered whatever territory adjoins them,” although his warning failed to spark an effort to modernize or otherwise prepare the army for that conflict. What would happen, many Mexican elites predicted, was that the war would forge a nation of Mexico, uniting Indians and creoles and giving a sense of common purpose. It did not work, Henderson notes: In the end, Mexico wound up ceding 55 percent of its land, and it would be politically unstable for decades to come.

Some provocative side notes on why the US did not annex Mexico—something that, Henderson observes, some gringos call for even today.

Pub Date: May 15, 2007

ISBN: 0-8090-6120-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

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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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