Preface

Santa Anna remains to this day the leader all Mexicans (and Texans) love to hate. The view that he "was the exclusive cause of all of Mexico's misfortunes" following the country's independence from Spain still goes unquestioned by many. Misleadingly described as "eleven times" president of Mexico, he is consistently depicted as a traitor, a turncoat, and a tyrant. He was the traitor who allegedly recognized the independence of Texas in captivity (1836), who lost the Mexican-American War (1846–48) for a fistful of dollars, and who shamelessly sold parts of Mexico to the United States in the Treaty of La Mesilla (1853). He was the bloodthirsty general who ordered the sanguinary assault on the Alamo and who ordered the execution of all the Texans taken prisoner at Goliad in 1836. He was the opportunistic turncoat who changed sides whenever it suited him, depending on which faction was most likely to rise to power, without upholding any consistent political ideals. He was also a despotic tyrant, the "Attila of Mexican civilization," the "Napoleon of the West." So goes the black legend that has come to dominate much of historiography's portrayal of Santa Anna's military and political career. He was demonized by Mexicans who wanted a scapegoat for losing the Mexican-American War and by Americans who needed a hate figure to justify their military involvement in Mexico. The time has come to deconstruct these myths. Otherwise it is impossible to understand Mexican history during the early national period. If Santa Anna was such a monster, how can we explain his repeated comebacks or that so many different factions invited him at one stage or another to come to the country's rescue? This new biography aims to set the record straight.

-ix-

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