Books about Mexico

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When Hernán Cortés met the Mayans, Aztecs and other cultures of the gulf coast of Mexico in 1519, it was the first extended contact between the peoples of continental America and Europe.

The Spanish found cities larger and better run than any in Europe, and pyramids greater than Egypt’s. The Aztecs believed time was running down and they lived in the final age of the world. Many Spaniards believed Christ’s millennium was approaching, and God’s revelation of Americas had opened the final act: the conversion of the remote races of the earth.

After the Day of Judgement God’s experiment with man was over. The laboratory, the physical world, would be destroyed. Both cultures were acting out the last days.

Halfway through researching this book John Harrison had a scan which told him he would not live to write it; he was seeing out his own days.

The Aztec people were concerned with the transitory nature of worldly things; some of their rulers were revered as much for their philosophical poetry as their conquests. John Harrison follows Cortés’s route along the Mexican coast and across country to modern Mexico City, home of the Aztecs.

A journey within journeys to the end of time, the book becomes a meditation on time, on mortality and self, from a modern master of travel writing.

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Reviews courtesy Goodreads
By John Harrison
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The world has watched stunned at the bloodshed in Mexico. Thirty thousand murdered since 2006; police chiefs shot within hours of taking office; mass graves comparable to those of civil wars; car bombs shattering storefronts; headless corpses heaped in town squares. And it is all because a few Americans are getting high.

Or is it? The United States throws Black Hawk helicopters and drug agents at the problem. But in secret, Washington is confused and divided about what to do. Who are these mysterious figures tearing Mexico apart? they wonder. What is El Narco?

El Narco draws the first definitive portrait of Mexico’s drug cartels and how they have radically transformed in the last decade. El Narco is not a gang; it is a movement and an industry drawing in hundreds of thousands from bullet-ridden barrios to marijuana-growing mountains. And it has created paramilitary death squads with tens of thousands of men-at-arms from Guatemala to the Texas border.

Journalist Ioan Grillo has spent a decade in Mexico reporting on the drug wars from the front lines. This piercing book joins testimonies from inside the cartels with firsthand dispatches and unsparing analysis.

The devastation may be south of the Rio Grande, El Narco shows, but America is knee-deep in this conflict.

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Reviews courtesy Goodreads
By Ioan Grillo
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In a ranch south of Texas, the man known as The Executioner dumps five hundred body parts in metal barrels. In Brazil’s biggest city, a mysterious prisoner orders hit-men to gun down forty-one police officers and prison guards in two days. In southern Mexico, a meth maker is venerated as a saint while enforcing Old Testament justice on his enemies.

A new kind of criminal kingpin has arisen: part CEO, part terrorist, and part rock star, unleashing guerrilla attacks, strong-arming governments, and taking over much of the world’s trade in narcotics, guns, and humans. What they do affects you now–from the gas in your car, to the gold in your jewelry, to the tens of thousands of Latin Americans calling for refugee status in the U.S.

Gangster Warlords is the first definitive account of the crime wars now wracking Central and South America and the Caribbean, regions largely abandoned by the U.S. after the Cold War. Author of the critically acclaimed El Narco, Ioan Grillo has covered Latin America since 2001 and gained access to every level of the cartel chain of command in what he calls the new battlefields of the Americas.

Moving between militia-controlled ghettos and the halls of top policy-makers, Grillo provides a disturbing new understanding of a war that has spiraled out of control–one that people across the political spectrum need to confront now.

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Reviews courtesy Goodreads
By Ioan Grillo
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Mexico is undergoing economic and political changes that lie like landmines ready to explode beneath Uncle Sam’s footsteps.

By the close of the first decade of the twenty-first century Mexico-United States relations had begun to shred. The leaders of the two countries shared a master-servant façade of cooperation and commitment but faced eroding control of the economy, the flourishing drug trade and human rights issues.

Despite the propaganda to the contrary every year millions of Mexicans sank into poverty, their lands expropriated and the prices of basic necessities soaring. ICE agents swept through factories, farms and construction sites from Maine to California herding handcuffed “illegals” into detention facilities.

Both countries ignored human rights violations and corruption in order to maintain control over Mexico’s pro-neoliberal administration. Violence associated with the “War on Drugs” took over 70,000 lives without materially diminishing the U.S. market for cocaine, marijuana and designer drugs. Brutal repression of citizen protest provoked ongoing international criticism and alienated millions of Mexican citizens.

The country’s dependence on oil exports to finance social programs pressured the state-controlled monopoly to cut corners, creating pipeline leaks and other environmental disasters.

Hidden Dangers pinpoints five major “landmines” that seriously threaten both countries’ social and political structures. It includes first-hand observations of devaluations, political repressions and border conflicts and commentaries and analyses from officials and academics on both sides of the frontier.

The five principal sections investigate migration and its effects on both Mexico and the United States, the drug trade’s influence on the economies and politics of both countries, popular uprisings that challenge U.S. influence and neo-liberal politics, how Mexico’s deeply rooted “politics of corruption” binds the entrepreneurial and banking systems to government processes and environmental disasters, both real and in the making, created by the oil, lumber and cattle industries, toxic waste, floods and poisoned waterways.

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Reviews courtesy Goodreads
By Robert Joe Stout
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Live Better South of the Border in Mexico is as necessary for the prospective transplant to Mexico as an airline ticket, a passport, or a roadmap. And the author’s entertaining and frank assessments will give readers the confidence to choose to move or not to move.

In addition to expert evaluations of gringo havens such as San Miguel de Allende, Guadalajara, Oaxaca, Puerto Vallarta, Cuernavaca, and Baja, you’ll find information on how to work in Mexico, how to find a place to live, realistic costs for living in paradise, banking and owning property in Mexico, medical care, telephone and Internet access, and more!

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Reviews courtesy Goodreads
By Mexico Mike Nelson
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Mexico City, as one of the largest metropoli on the planet, can overwhelm even the most adventurous visitor. Thankfully, Mexico City: An Opinionated Guide for the Curious Traveler lends a thorough, guiding hand to help make the visitor’s stay outstanding.

Written by a longtime resident who knows the city inside and out, this travel guide delivers detailed walking tours of the city that include the most popular tourist sights as well as lesser-known spots. Johnston knows where to stay, what to do, and where to eat: everything from authentic market food to sophisticated Mexican cuisine.

What began as a collection of notes to share with good friends is now available to every newcomer looking for a joyful, memorable stay in Mexico City.

“This is the guidebook that I want. Wonderfully written, airtight information, organized in the smartest possibly way. I can’t imagine a better Mexico City guide for these times.” —Tony Cohan, author of Mexican Days and On Mexican Time

“Johnston is the friend you wish you had in every great city, toting you from palace to museum to park but never missing the exquisite pastelería, the grand hotel lobby or the clean public bathroom.” —San Francisco Chronicle

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Reviews courtesy Goodreads
By Jim Johnston
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This is one of the best books available about life for both expat residents and natives in villages and cities across Mexico. What sets it apart from most other books about living in Mexico is that it’s a literary collection of short stories and essays, full of insights by contemporary authors who write and live full time in Mexico or who have spent a lot of time living in the country.

The superb collection contains twenty two works, all but five from authors who live full time in the country. Their writing spans a variety of topics; many contributions extol life in Mexico’s abundant sunlight while others examine what the shadows sometimes obscure.

It’s a sampler of sorts, with active hyperlinks for more information about the authors and their other writing.

The anthology contains complete chapters from books and also single pieces from internationally-acclaimed authors and emerging writers: Bruce Berger, E.G. Brady, Ann Hazard, Michael Hogan, Jim Johnston, William Kaliher, Janice Kimball, Judy King, Jeanine Kitchel, David Lida, C.M. Mayo, Carol M. Merchasin, Mikel Miller, Katie O’Grady, Antonio Rambles, Daniel Reveles, Robert Richter, Lin Robinson & Ana Maria Corona, John Scherber, Jennifer Stace, James Tipton, and Candelora Versace.

Perhaps the best way to gain valuable insights about the day-to-day life of people in a foreign country is to read good books by authors living and/or writing in that country. The purpose of this book is to identify several writers who can help readers accomplish this for Mexico.

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Reviews courtesy Goodreads
By Michael Hogan
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Tacopedia is an encyclopaedic tribute to the vibrancy of Mexican taco culture. Explore one of Mexico’s most popular culinary traditions through 100 recipes accompanied by interviews, street and food photography, illustrations, graphics, and maps that bring the full story behind each taco to life.

Tacopedia’s highly graphic style will appeal to hip taco lovers, food truck enthusiasts, and serious followers of Mexican cuisine, both young, and young at heart.

Features:
– Forward by internationally renowned chef René Redzepi.
– 100 authentic recipes adapted from the Mexican best-seller from fillings and tortillas to salsas and sauces.
– Illustrated with 250 photographs, and accompanied by interviews, stories, illustrations, graphics, maps, and more that bring the vibrancy of the taco, and its homeland, to life.

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By Deborah Holtz, Juan Carlos Mena, René Redzepi
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Vivid, powerful and absorbing, this is a first-person account of one of the most startling military episodes in history: the overthrow of Montezuma’s doomed Aztec Empire by the ruthless Hernan Cortes and his band of adventurers.

Bernal Díaz del Castillo, himself a soldier under Cortes, presents a fascinatingly detailed description of the Spanish landing in Mexico in 1520 and their amazement at the city, the exploitation of the natives for gold and other treasures, the expulsion and flight of the Spaniards, their regrouping and eventual capture of the Aztec capital.

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Reviews courtesy Goodreads
By Bernal Díaz del Castillo
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On the eve of the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848, a group of recently arrived Irish immigrants deserted the U.S. army and joined the Mexican army as the Saint Patrick’s Battalion.

This excellent study explores the motivations of the Irishmen, their valiant contributions to the Mexican cause, and the consequences for them when they were ultimately captured.

While investigating this, the book asks new questions about Manifest Destiny, anti-Catholicism in the U.S., imperialism and political and cultural dissent.

More than a reevaluation of a little-known secret of one of the Northern Hemisphere least-studied wars, it is a compelling narrative of sacrifice and honor.

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Reviews courtesy Goodreads
By Michael Hogan
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Early in the evening of November 25, 2006, George Bynum, the protagonist leaves his Mexican novia Patricia among anti-government protest marchers in the city of Oaxaca, Mexico, and returns to his apartment to finish a report for his employers, the Rural Development through Education Center.

Before he can finish, his cell phone rings. “They’re attacking! Killing..! They won’t…stop!” Patricia’s voice rings in his ears. He rushes out, hoping to find her, but blinded by teargas from a federal police assault he trips and has to be helped to safety.

He and several others, including a young woman named Claudi Auscher, make their way back to George’s apartment. Claudi, who defines herself as “a Mexican Jew gypsy bitch rebel” joins George in his efforts to reestablish contact with Patricia, who has been flown to a maximum security prison along with other innocent victims of the militarized purge.

George and Claudi are fictional characters but the events in which they’ve become embroiled are based on the actual political and social upheavals that reverberated through Oaxaca from November 2006 through April 2007.

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Reviews courtesy Goodreads
By Robert Stout
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