I don't have a clue why it has taken me so long to do this. Probably because I'm in some ways nuts.
t is a shame, shame, shame that US students don't learn more about Mexican history, and from my perspective, Mexican history in particular. It is one of those clichés that has a lot of truth: at least the Americans I know who live in the US and haven't visited Mexico still form their images from headlines about narcos and have only a tiny bit of curiosity about anything else in here. There's a kind of "what's to know?" condescension which infuriates me. I suspect they don't know much real US history, either.
I am going to try to draw pictures of Diego Rivera and Henry Ford and place them in their environments separately, and then bring them together as they came together in 1932. They didn't really have much to do with each other as individuals, although they did meet, but they really serve well as, what should I call them, embodiments of their cultures and their times. In this way, I hope we can see how these two very different cultures, Mexico's and the United States' developed, clashed, and paralleled each other particularly in the first third of the twentieth century. Also, I want to show how their economies became woven together along the edges at least while especially the US developed little understanding and empathy and appreciation for Mexico's cultures and history, a deficit which has had grave consequences.
But I don't want to do this in an encyclopedic way. I'd be dead before I even got started. So that you can dig in more depth, I am going to recommend books as I go along. Don't feel confined to them! My choices are all in English, usually written by Gringos: Maybe you can consider them introductory, or beginner books (though they are not simple-minded), and develop a passion for more as I have. Maybe you'll even study Spanish, as I did, if you don't already know it.
Most (maybe all) are available for Kindles, and if they are, I've provided a link. In no way am I boosting Amazon as the best source to buy downed-tree versions. It's just that my Kindle has kept me reading like a junky here in our corner of Mexico where specific books can be pretty hard to come by.
The very first book I'd suggest is Richard Grabman's Gods, Gachupines and Gringos. *,**I tried to think of something more serious to say start with, but I keep coming back to the fact that it's fun to read. It is densely packed with personalities, opinions, punny titles and well-told tales which bring it to life. Grabman races through the first I don't know how many thousands of years at mach speed, slows down a bit for the period of Spanish domination and hits his best stride with Independence and especially the late 19th through the first third of the twentieth century, my favorite years.
While you are learning about Mexico in Gods, Gachupines and Gringos, I will catch you up on some American history.
* You can order the book direct from the publisher in Mexico. Here is the contact information:
Editorial Mazatlán, Av. Camarón Sabado no 610, Plaza Galerías, Local no. 11, fracc. El Dorado CP 82110, Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico Tel 52 6699167899, [email protected]
** Richard has an excellent blog at mexfiles.net. Definitely worth following.