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A Glorious Defeat

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A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and Its War with the United States. By Timothy J. Henderson. (Hill & Wang - A Division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York: 2007. Pg. xxi, 216. Illustrations, Map, Chronology.) ISBN 10: 0-8090-6120-1. ISBN 13: 978-0-8090-6120-4.

Reviewed by Herbert White - May 31, 2007

The Mexican-American War of 1846-1848, had a long prelude, growing out of events that begun in the early 1820's and culminated with the United States annexation of Texas. The war itself was, in the scheme of things, a small war. However it has had a lasting effect on Mexican American relations that exists till today. In A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and Its War with the United States, Timothy J. Henderson examines this ofttimes overlooked war, the events leading up to it, and its long term impact. Henderson is a professor of history at Auburn University in Montgomery.

The bulk of this book is given over to the events leading up to the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848, providing keen insights into the varied causes of the war and how differences between how Mexico and the United States gained their independence impacted and escalated the war fervor. Henderson also examines how cultural differences between the two counties also acerbated the situation, and how the intense feelings evoked when the United States annexed Texas still reverberated today. In 1845 Mexico formally recognized the independence of the Republic of Texas. However, such recognition was granted on the condition that Texas was not to be annexed by the United States. The fact that the U.S. did annex Texas still riles many in Mexico who feel that Texas should be returned to Mexican sovereignty.

A Glorious Defeat is written primarily from the Mexican point of view, and in doing so, Henderson answers a question that often goes unanswered in most history books on the war written from the American viewpoint. The question is simple, "Why did Mexico go to war against the United States?" Most books that I've read simply state that the war was a form of American egression designed to annex more territory from Mexico, they tend to neglect the fact that Mexico was a willing participant in the war and that Mexico sought gains of its own. This book also examines how this war was one of impetus that caused civil wars to erupt in both countries.

A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and Its War with the United States includes copious endnotes along with an up-to-date and enlightening list of Suggestions for Further Reading. This list and the endnotes provide ample fodder for anyone interested in pursuing this intriguing subject in greater detail. In addition, A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and Its War with the United States should be required reading in every college level Mexican or American history class that covers the period from around 1820-1861.

This book is eminently readable and it will fascinate both academic readers as well as general readers with an interest in 19th century Mexican or American history, military history, or specifically, in the history of Texas, including the settlement of Texas by Anglo-Americans and the Texas Revolution along with the Battle of the Alamo, and surrounding events.


Related Reviews:

The Mexican Wars for Independence, by Timothy J. Henderson.
A rousing account of Mexico's wars of independence 1810-1821, including its causes and consequences. Within this study, special attention is given to the social causes of the conflicts, and how they are still affecting Mexico today.

Historical Atlas of Central America, by Carolyn Hall and Héctor Pérez Brignoli.
A superbly illustrated atlas of Central American covering the 16th century to the present. Includes a detailed overview of the history and culture of the region, and includes 405 color maps.

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