Grits and Tamales

Life in the Deep South, by Gabriel Aguilera

A Crash Course on Mexico (In Books)

I recently wrote a review of Shannon O’Neil’s fine book on US-Mexico relations. It got me thinking what handful of books I would assign if I wanted to assign a brief crash-course on Mexico, with a focus on politics, society, and political economy?

First, I would assign Nora Hamilton’s “Mexico: Political, Social and Economic Evolution,” which is an excellent tour of the topics in the title. Up next is Leslie Bethell’s “Mexico Since Independence.” It is a collection of narrative historical essays by top scholars, bringing the reader up to speed through most of the PRI regime. It’s concise and in-depth, which is hard to do in a single volume. I have been re-reading this piecemeal lately and have found even more illuminating than when I first read it grad school. With this rich background in hand, I would next assign Haber et. al. “Mexico Since 1980.” This is a neat but hard book, but it will help the student think systematically about Mexico’s future, why deeper economic and political reforms are so challenging and difficult to implement and why deep changes are possible albeit unlikely today. Last, Shannon’s “Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico, the United States, and the Road Ahead” of course provides the best recent take on US-Mexican relations and the way forward.


Nora Hamilton

Two Nations Indivisible

Mexico Since Independence


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