I recently received an advance copy of the new book by author Richard Grabman, Gods Gachupines and Gringos with a request by the author to review it. Being an avid reader with more than a thousand books in my collection, I was pleased to do so.
Gods Gachupines and Gringos is a complete people’s history of Mexico, written in a non academic manner that should appeal to anyone with an interest in history. It is apolitical and presents the history of Mexico from the Pre Conquest days to present day Mexico. And in between those periods, it is a fascinating accounting of the history of our neighbor to the south.
Mexico’s history predates the US by hundreds of years when the great civilizations of the Aztec and Mayans ruled what we call Meso America.
Many things we enjoy today came from Mexico as the book will reveal. Basketball for instance, called Ulama was played as far back as the Classical Era (200 BC -1000 AD) Calendars to track the growing seasons which had to be exact. The “0” came out of Mexico, long before it was known in India or Europe.
The book covers the Mayan and Aztecs, advanced civilizations that we are still learning about today as archeologists continue to uncover astounding lost cities.
The book continues on to the invasion of the Spaniards and in the end, the almost total eradication of a civilization by Cortes and those who followed.
The Spanish Inquisition wasn’t just Spain’s shame but it made itself felt in the New World that would someday become Mexico.
The book continues for several very interesting chapters including the age of the Conquistadors and interaction between Cortes and Montezuma. Well researched reading and anecdotal remarks keep the reader immersed in the story.
The book reveals more “firsts” coming from Mexico that has benefited the world and mankind, some in good ways, others in not so good manners.
For instance, street lamps installed in Mexico City were the first ever in the America’s in the early part of the 19th Century. The worlds first traffic laws were written by Viceroy Bucarelli to keep streets clear on market days and when people ignored them, the first traffic cops, called Transitos today were formed. Followed by the “No Parking Zone” and “Loading Zone” adopted for the convenience of the Viceroy and seen worldwide today.When that didn’t solve the problem, the world’s first public transit system was formed. Mule drawn buses to bring people to and from market. Today, Mexico has one of the best transit systems in the world, both city and inter city.
Characters in history we’ve all admired or detested throughout history are featured in their historical context with Mexico. Jean Lafitte, the pirate ( who was gay, something I never knew), Santa Ana, things you never knew about him, as well as the rascal, Pancho Villa.
All of the Presidents and their actions are detailed in a readers digest format. Enough to keep you interested yet not enough to bore you.
It takes us through the Mexican Revolutions, the mini revolutions and wannabe revolutions where the revolutionaries never quite got it going but were rewarded for their efforts.
Through the World Wars, where Mexico was a valued ally and through today’s administration of President Calderon, Mr. Grabman lays out the events, the lives and the sacrifices that has made Mexico the country it is today.
The book is full of surprises and it will debunk some of the myths you might have about our neighbor to the south.
Mexico’s history in many ways parallels ours. A nation searching for it’s identity, withstanding the meddling of outside influence and finding it’s place in the world.
The book is complete with footnotes, a detailed Bibliography and thoroughly indexed for use as a reference aid, which I intend to use it as.
I’m on my second reading of it and continue to find things I missed the first time. Richard Grabman is an author that has done exhaustive research on this project and it shows on every page.
Oh, and if you want to know the source of the intriguing title, it all in the book.