Waking the Dictator: Veracruz, the Struggle for Federalism, and the Mexican Revolution, 1870-1927


361 pages
Contains Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55238-031-9
DDC 971'.62





Reviewed by John Walker

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


One of the most significant events in Latin America during the 20th
century was the Mexican Revolution. Rooted in the 1910 popular protest
against the dictatorship of Porfirio Dнaz, the uprising was a genuine,
agrarian, national revolt that finally accomplished a union of all
classes, with its slogan of “Bread, Land and Liberty.” This
rebellion was to be the basis of Mexican government for almost a century
until the recent defeat of the PRI party by the present leader, Vicente

The two studies under review are the first two volumes in a new
revisionist Latin American and Caribbean series. Karl Koth’s
well-researched work focuses on the role of the state of Veracruz
before, during, and after the revolution. In nine solid chapters, Waking
the Dictator details the modernization of the state in the last third of
the 19th century, preparing the way for Madero’s revolt against the
dictatorship of Porfirio Dнaz and the cientнficos (technocrats). Based
on his archival research, Koth has new and important points to make
about federalism and the nature of the revolution as it applies to
Veracruz and the country as a whole. Extensive notes, a glossary, a
bibliography, maps, and illustrations round out the volume.

Equally innovative and challenging is Pasztor’s study of the
revolution as it pertains to the northeastern state of Coahuila, home of
the first rebel leader, Francisco Madero, and the later revolutionary
figure, Carranza. In eight chapters, Pasztor traces the history of the
state and its influence on the revolution as a whole, especially in the
crucial formative period 1910–20. Her archival research, which is
enhanced by maps, illustrations, notes, and a bibliography, makes for a
fresh reading of the revolution, constitutionalism, and Coahuila’s
unique contribution to the formation of the modern state. One looks
forward to the future studies on Mexico promised by this new series, if
they can match the quality of these volumes.


Koth, Karl B., “Waking the Dictator: Veracruz, the Struggle for Federalism, and the Mexican Revolution, 1870-1927,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/9401.