Tony Burton’s recently published Mexican Kaleidoscope is a whirlwind trip through some of the underpinnings of Mexican culture, told with humour, affection and well-documented facts. This readable compendium of little known stories made me want to revisit many places I’d already seen. How much richer my experiences would have been had I been able to take this user-friendly and easily carried tome of gems with me when I was in Mexico.
The United States and Mexico struggled through volatile years of suffering and carnage to become unified nations. Michael Hogan’s thoroughly researched and passionately written "Abraham Lincoln and Mexico" is a thought-provoking read that covers part of that struggle from 1822, when Americans settlers first arrived on Mexican territory, to 1867, when Mexico finally freed itself from France’s intrusion into its territory.
With so much misleading information written about the Mexican-American War (between 1846 and 1848), lies repeated often enough gets sucked into people’s minds as truth, and the burden of proof rests on the lone voice that shouts, “The Emporer has no clothes.”
The nineteenth century was a turbulent period in American and Mexican history. For anyone interested in Mexican-American history or how the game of politics is played, it’s an enlightening read. This is particularly true in light of the political landscape of both counrtries into 2017.
Although the book is by a biker for bikers, I was drawn into his insights and reflections on Mexico when he made his first trip down to the Yucatan in 1991. This section is alive with rich detail and genuine appreciation for the people, culture, and physical beauty of the region. I was immersed in his story of the isolated stretch of road along the jungle when his bike died – the description of the experience was visceral and brought me there.
Over the past ten years I have published reviews of over a hundred books about, or set in, Mexico, and so I have discovered dozens of fine authors who, as I do, live here or spend lots of time here, and who indeed love Mexico. Editor Mikel Miller, like the roosters at dawn in this little town of mine (Chapala), has decided it’s time to crow about Mexico Writers.Mikel has put together a collection of essays and stories by 23 different authors, all but four of whom live here full time, some of whom are internationally known, others of whom are just emerging.
Robert Richter’s new novel, Something for Nothing, is his third featuring Cotton Waters, ‘not your ordinary roving gringo’, who is called Algo by his Mexican buddies, shortened from the Spanish word for Cotton, algodón.
Much of Robert Richter’s work is inspired by his 40-year love affair with Mexico. He has written three Cotton Waters mysteries (all available on Kindle): Something in Vallarta (1991), Something Like a Dream (2014), this latest, Something for Nothing (2015), all set on Mexico’s western Riviera. Richter has also written two non-fiction books about Mexico: Search for the Camino Real: A History of San Blas and the Road to Get There (2011) and Cuautémoc Cárdenas and the Roots of Mexico’s New Democracy (2000).
The title of Mikel Miller's new book, I Love Baja!
, was inspired by locals who again and again told him, "I love Baja!". These same locals, reading this new edition of I Love Baja!
, are probably saying, "I love Mikel's book," because it is written by a former resident who indeed knows and loves Baja... but it is also useful to those already living there and, in fact, fascinating to all Mexico aficionados...
Judy King's Living at Lake Chapala is a must have book for any expatriate living at Lake Chapala, and it is a very useful book for any expatriate anywhere in Mexico.
It is a book to keep beside the bed, or on the coffee table, or even on the car seat.
Arranged in six parts, the 76 chapters tell you just about everything you could want to know about living the Mexico adventure.
At the very beginning of Living at Lake Chapala, Judy tells us "This is the book I needed when I arrived in Mexico." It might be the book you need as well....
The Girl from Veracruz is the twelfth and latest novel in John Scherber's Murder in Mexico mystery series. Like most of the others, it is set largely in San Miguel de Allende (although there is a trip to Veracruz).
It features the same team of detectives that we have come to care for in the preceding novels: Paul Zacher, age 40, a reasonably popular local artist; the lovely Maya Sanchez, his life partner (for the most part) and now head of the Paul Zacher Agency; and Cody Williams, a retired homicide detective from Peoria, Illinois. We also meet again Licenciado Diego Delgado, their contact with the San Miguel Judicial Police.
The story begins at the morgue...
There are several e-cookbooks that I use regularly to expand and improve upon my repertoire of Mexican dishes. Whether visiting family in Australia or sitting on a bus from Puebla to Mexico City, I can plan meals, gather information for articles, and always learn more about Mexican cuisine and culture.
Following are some suggestions for Mexican e-cookbooks that fit that criteria and are easy to use, with clear presentations and recipes that are uncomplicated while still featuring authentic flavors of Mexico...
Derived from the agave plant, mescal — or mezcal — has been enjoyed since before the Spanish conquest.
Most is produced in the Mexican state of Oaxaca and, as with so many distilled spirits, reveals distinct nuances in smoothness, smokiness and flavor.
How each producer distills is also unique to his facility and likely his family history of making mezcal. ondenser is kept cool through circulating it or by continuously using new cool water, and so on. No two traditional clay distillers or copper pot distillers use exactly the same recipe unless they are close family members.
A friend said, Alvin Starkman has written the best book on mezcal in the English language....
Book lovers, especially those contemplating retirement near Lake Chapala, will enjoy Karen Blue's conversational interviews in Baby Boomers: Reinvent Your Retirement in Mexico.
But my guess is that the book may be more attractive to people who have already moved south and want to know what makes their fellow expats tick, and maybe pick up a few nuggets of practical information in the process.
Each short chapter in the 215-page softcover focuses on one person or couple who, in most cases, use only their first name.
Yet, with only that thin cloak of anonymity, the interviewees pretty much pour out their hearts, and the author gets in a fair amount of personal details about her background and her nearly 20 years living the expat life in the Lake Chapala area...
The Canadian author and Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro said that "The constant happiness is curiosity." If this is the case, then chef and cookbook writer David Sterling must have taken great joy in putting this book together, for it reflects tireless research that was surely driven by an intense desire to learn as much as possible about the cuisine and the culinary traditions of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
Sterling's 2014 book may well be considered the definitive work on the foodways of the Yucatan.
Stan Brock, an unusual Englishman made semi-famous by his role in the TV series Wild Kingdom, had founded something called Remote Area Medical and was soliciting volunteers for a three-week mission to one of the Tuxpans somewhere in the mountains of Mexico.
He described the poverty, misery and misfortune that plagued the small village. He talked of deadly disease and infant mortality. His plea for the primitive Indians, the Huichols, may have actually triggered a few tears among the tough military trainees...
The Primavera Forest is a protected area of oak and pine trees covering over 36,000 hectares, located due west of Guadalajara, Mexico's second largest city. In 2010, the administrators of the forest published "Aves del Bosque La Primavera-Guía Ilustrada" (Illustrated Guide to the Birds of the Primavera Forest) by Oscar Reyna Bustos. Nature photographer Jesús Moreno described the book as "The fruit of many years of hard work and a great deal of time spent in the field..."
"People unfamiliar with the Latin culture are curious, confused, and sometimes repulsed by the emphasis on suffering in religious figures. During Easter in North America, the focus is on the resurrection and the delights of spring. The event is concerned with the awe of transformation. There is resistance to facing the suffering that is a major part of this epic…."
This little book is just the right size to tuck into your glove compartment or even into a large shirt pocket. Wildlife of the Yucatan Peninsula: The Explorer Family's Guide and Journal is a collection, divided into three color-coded sections, of fifty photos of marine life, mammal life, and bird life that you may encounter in the Yucatan Peninsula...
2013 saw the launching of a new book describing the mammals of Jalisco's Primavera Forest, located just west of the city of Guadalajara. Mamíferos del Bosque La Primavera, Guía Ilustrada (in Spanish)...
Do you remember that best seller several decades ago, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, in which author Robert Pirsig details (but gets lost in digressions) a motorcycle trip from Wisconsin to California?
David Bryen's new book, Riding off the Edge of the Map, is a much better book, detailing (and reflecting upon) a far more fascinating motorcycle trip — through Mexico's Copper Canyon.
What began as a pleasure trip metamorphosed into something else: "The highway had deteriorated from asphalt to terror..."
he year was 1916. Young Frank Holloway "got mercury poisoning working in the Silver Creek Mine in Mogollón, New Mexico." To recover his health, his doctor told him to get away and go have "an adventure."
And so… perhaps lacking judgment because of the mercury poisoning, Frank opted for danger as well as adventure. On Tosca, his beloved mare, he rode south, and fifty miles west of El Paso he crossed the border into Mexico.
Frank, "with a fool's luck, managed to pick his way… between horse thieves from both sides, the Texas rangers who pursued them, Pancho Villa's Dorados, General Pershing's 6,000 gringo troops who were chasing Villa after the raid at Columbus, New Mexico,...
In July of 1969, Bulgarian born artist-adventurer Dimitar Krustev, almost 50 years old, and his inexperienced young companion named Gary set off, in their folding kayak, to explore, traveling on its waters, the jungles of southern Chiapas, the still largely unknown land of the Lancandon Maya.
In 1969, this culture was already in decline, undermined by the relentless forces of what some still call progress.
Jungle adventures are always challenging. This trip was a very difficult one for Gary, his young companion, and although difficult as well for Krustev, the artist was generally of a calm and philosophically disposed spirit...
Let the Water Hold Me Down has the makings of a classic.
It is written with skill and with grace, and the old verities that are at the heart of being human are here: loss and grief, guilt and longing, loyalty and love.
Set in modern-day Mexico, it tells the story of Hank Singer and is also about his relationship with César Lobos de Madrid, whose "family was one of the oldest, wealthiest, and most politically connected in Chiapas, if not in all of Mexico."
Hank has arrived just a few weeks before the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, led by Subcomandante Marcos, who on January 1, 1994, declared war against the government and the military...
Xtabentum: A Novel of Yucatan begins in 1906, in those tense years just preceding the Mexican Revolution. A woman in Merida is giving birth to a baby girl, who will be named Amanda Diaz, and who will be one of the principal characters in Xtabentum.
The young Amanda, with the help of her thoughtful father, begins to understand la Casta Divina, the Divine Class, and how most members of this class "considered themselves superior by birth and the lighter color of their skin."
John Scherber's thoughtful and satisfying book, San Miguel de Allende: A Place in the Heart (2010), is a collection of stories about North Americans "who live here full time, as I do." San Miguel de Allende is their home.
The idea of the book originated when Scherber, after living in San Miguel for only eight months, began asking himself questions like: "What had I given up to come here, and what had I gained? What was my new role in the community? Was I an exile? An expatriate? Would I ever live in the States again? How did I react to Americans I saw here visiting? What had I done?"
All of his life, Bayley had listened to the stories told to him by his beloved grandmother, stories that usually were about her father, Bayley's great-grandfather Arturo (Arthur Greenhalgh, born 1874 in Tottington, England) who managed a cotton mill in western Mexico in those challenging years immediately preceding the Mexican Revolution.
Worried about life passing him by, in 1898 Arturo "kissed his sweetheart Mariah goodbye and set off on his Mexican adventures."
Bayley, over one-hundred years later, "was plagued by the same fear about life passing me by."
Taking a look at the past year's Mexican cookbook offerings, it seems that 2012 produced more specialized books than ever before. These are not your essential Mexican cookbooks (for that, go to Diana Kennedy's The Essential Cuisines of Mexico or Adela Fernandez' La Traditional Cocina Mexicana), but they will add new dimensions to a basic Mexican culinary library.