A very straightforward, unbiased, factual account of Mexican history from the times of the Indians, the Mayas and Toltecs and Aztecs up to the 1960s. The most interesting part for this reader was the early history before the Spanish conquest and the time immediately following. It’s a genuinely interesting adventure story. Having travelled a little in Mexico I can now relate to some of the places involved in the story. Also, those famous dates we run into so often…..16 de Septiembre and 5 de Mayo….all take on greater relevance. Where the story slowed down considerably for me was in the history of the country after it became a country. Things get tedious and repetitious and the author’s straight, blow-by-blow approach doesn’t help.
We read about one corrupt and brutal dictator after another, each one seemingly bent on exploiting the people and enriching himself. The litany of villainy grinds on rather depressingly in the late going. I found myself wishing the author could somehow step aside and summarize or synthesize more than he does. This raises an interesting question, of course: Should a historian bend the story a little, in the way that journalists do, just to make it more interesting? Parkes is obviously an historian, not a journalist. I’m not getting into that argument, although, as a general reader, I prefer my facts to be presented in a more interesting manner than Parkes gives us here.
A History of Mexico
by Henry Bamford Parkes
Houghton Mifflin Company,
American Heritage Library. 1960. 442 pages.
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