A NATION OF VILLAGES: Riot and Rebellion in the Mexican Huasteca, 1750-1850

Article excerpt

A NATION OF VILLAGES: Riot and Rebellion in the Mexican Huasteca, 1750-1850, Michael T. Ducey, The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 2005,230 pages, $39.95.

This book is the result of Michael T. Ducey's dissertation research. As such, it offers a wealth of detail on the obscure topic of Mexican peasant rebellions of the late colonial and early national periods. Specifically, it is a study of the various social upheavals that occurred in the south-central region known as the Huasteca, bordering the Gulf of Mexico. This region encompassed portions of four modern Mexican states, where impoverished Indian groups lived in small, dispersed villages surrounded by rugged hills, jungle, and small farm plots.

Military conflict, as such, is not the main subject of the book. The emphasis is on the underlying socioeconomic causes of these rebellions and their effects on Mexican political and social history. The book does not cover tactical or operational issues; it inspects the roots of social conflict and the country's transition from colonial status to fledgling federalist democracy.

The issues Ducey raises are definitely worth consideration by military officers, particularly those working on civil-military issues. Latin American foreign area officers and others dealing with the region will gain a deeper perspective into the area's history of rural, local government (Ia patria chica or the "small Motherland") versus the concerns of the governing elite in a distant capital. …