Recent Books on International Relations: Western Hemisphere: Tijuana Dreaming: Life and Art at the Global Border/Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food

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Tijuana Dreaming: Life and Art at the Global Border. edited by JOSH KUN and FIAMMA MONTEZEMOLO. Duke University Press, 2012, 424 pp. $94.95 (paper, $26.95).

Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food. by JEFFERY M. PILCHER. Oxford University Press, 2012, 320 pp. $27.95.

An eclectic anthology of critical cultural studies, Tijuana Dreaming brings to life the tumultuous history of the border town's shifting identity: the Prohibition-era booze-and-brothel magnet adjacent to San Diego, the late-twentieth-century booming free-trade zone of globalized assembly plants, and, most recently, the bloody site of today's horrific drug-war violence. Some contributions are pedantic, and there is no balanced assessment of the region's economic progress, but the volume's overall high quality makes for a stimulating, if sometimes dense, read. Humberto Félix Berumen provides lucid "snapshots" of the diverse interpretations of Tijuana: as a paradise of illicit pleasures, as a border melting pot, and as a symbol of cultural postmodernism. Well-crafted essays by Teddy Cruz and Tito Alegría take the reader for a drive through the heterogeneous neighborhoods of San Diego and Tijuana, arguing that despite the tens of millions of border crossings per year, the contiguous cities are far apart socially and economically. Lucía Sanromán, Jennifer Insley-Pruitt, and Ejival expertly interpret, respectively, Tijuana's vibrant arts, literary, and music scenes. …