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The Mexican Wars for Independence

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The Mexican Wars for Independence
By Timothy J. Henderson. (Hill & Wang - A Division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York: 2009. Pg. xxiii, 246. Illustrations, Map, Chronology.) ISBN 10: 0-8090-9509-2. ISBN 13: 978-0-8090-9509-4.

Reviewed by Herbert White - May 8, 2009

The Mexican drive toward independence from Spanish rule was not a single event like the American War for Independence. Rather, Mexico's drive toward independence took a circuitous route, and it included a several civil wars, insurgencies, a revolution or two, and some major social changes. In The Mexican Wars for Independence, Timothy J. Henderson chronicles the events that led to Mexican independence.

Henderson is a professor of History at Auburn University, Montgomery. He is a respected historian of Mexican history, and the author of several books on Mexican history including A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and Its War with the United States. He has a knack for crafting narrative histories that are as engrossing as they are informative, and this book is no exception. With wit and a fine eye for detail, Henderson not only details the myriad of problems that Mexico faced on its move toward independence, but also the numerous factors - and individuals - that pushed the independence movement forward. He also details the social instabilities that impeded Mexico's move toward independence, including the social conflicts that arose between the various cultural groups within Mexico, such as the Creoles, Spaniards, Indians, Castes (mixed raced individuals), and Africans. He also examines the legacy that these conflicts still play today.

Mexico's fight for independence lasted from 1810–1821, and Henderson not only details the events of this period, but also the factors that led to its origin. Key players in the conflict, including Miquel Hidalgo, Ferdinand VII, José María Morelos y Pavón, Colonel Agustín de Iturbide, and Francisco Javier Venegas are discussed in detail as are key battles, political movements, and governmental responses to political, social, and military actions facing the nation.

Deadly, bloody, and socially divisive, Mexico's wars for independence marked a decidedly turbulent period in Mexico's history. In The Mexican Wars for Independence, Henderson paints a graphic portrait of the various conflicts that comprised the wars for independence and explains in detail the implications that they held for Mexican sovereignty and political and social stability. From beginning to end, The Mexican Wars for Independence is an edifying and informative book. It is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand Mexico's past, and its future.

Related Reviews:

A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and Its War with the United States, by Timothy J. Henderson.
An in-depth and fascinating analysis of the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848, the events leading up to it, and its long-term repercussions. The book is written primarily from a Mexican viewpoint.

Pueblos, Spaniards, and the Kingdom of New Mexico, by John L. Kessell.
This is a comprehensive narrative history of the Spanish Colonial period in the American Southwest during the 17th century and the tumultuous interactions that ensued between the native Pueblo Indians and the Spanish colonist.

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