Mexico the People.

Description

32 pages
Contains Photos, Index
$9.95
ISBN 978-0-7787-9662-6
DDC j972

Year

2008

Contributor

Reviewed by John Walker

John Walker is a professor of Spanish at Queen’s University.

Review

With this recent addition on Mexico, the growing list of countries in the Lands, Peoples, Cultures series is now over 30, with about one-third of them Latin American countries. Each of the three volumes is self-contained and independent, but together they form a valuable comprehensive study of Mexico for young readers. As in all the previous volumes, the presentation is attractive and colourful, with beautiful photographs and captivating illustrations, and full of information to whet the appetite of any young person.

 

Each volume, of course, stands on its own, but by the nature of the composition as a whole there is a certain amount of repetition and overlapping. But this is no serious defect. The first volume on the land explains the geography of Mexico, the different landscapes, and natural phenomena like earthquakes and volcanoes, given the nature of the land. Since the land forms the people, the author tells us something of the early inhabitants, like the Olmecs, the Mayas, and the Aztecs who were at the height of their power when Mexico was invaded and conquered by the Spanish under Cortes in the 16th century.

 

But Mexico is very much a modern country now, as can be seen in the treatment of the industries (including high tech), natural resources (oil, minerals), agriculture (corn, beans) , and the need for transportation to link the growing modern cities (by rail, road, air)…The varied geography provides haven to much wildlife (cf. monarch butterflies ).

 

Vol. 2 on the people develops the history of the aforementioned early races, as well as the colonial period up through the Revolution of 1910. Problems of race and population are discussed here, plus a study of family life, clothing, and customs, not to mention the various religions that survive in a traditionally Catholic country (since the conquest). With a growing population, the care and education of the young is a key concern of Mexican governments of all levels who have to keep up with modern technology issues alongside traditional agricultural problems in village and country life, as well as the endemic social and civic problems of big city life, as in the capital (violence, pollution, etc.).

 

In Vol. 3, the culture, we see the fascinating mixture of the indigenous past, the Spanish colonial period, the Independence movement of the 19th century, and the revolutionary events of the 20th century. This volume reflects in detail some of the themes mentioned in Vols. 1 and 2, e.g. Mayan and Aztec achievements and the wonderful architecture left from the Spanish colonial period, especially the churches and government buildings. Mexico also has a wonderful tradition of art, for example, the murals of Diego Rivera, Orozco, and Siqueiros, and there can be no mention of Mexican art without reference to the inimitable Frida Kahlo. Music too, from classical to mariachi to salsa is important, as is the national ballet and popular dance. In terms of literature, Mexico is one of the richest countries in Latin America, with Carlos Fuentes, Octavio Paz, and Juan Rulfo amongst many world class figures. Much of the music, culture, fiestas, etc. originated in church events cf. Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Day of the Dead festivities ...When it comes to sport, Mexico is second to none, in soccer, baseball, and, even today, bullfighting. And of course one does not have to travel to Mexico to enjoy Mexican food.

 

All three of these beautifully illustrated volumes, with colourful photographs, depicting every aspect of the cultural events listed above, are enhanced by a useful glossary. Together they instruct and give pleasure. What more could one ask. Highly recommended.

Citation

Kalman, Bobbie., “Mexico the People.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 15, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/32616.