Book Notes: Mexico and the Spanish Civil War

Hallelujah! Finally I have found a book by a Latin Americanist that was a pleasure to read. Mario Ojeda Revah is a professor in Mexico and he has no interest in turning his field of knowledge into a site for narcissistic self-flagellation by the bearers of delicious liberal guilt. In Ojeda Revah’s México and the Spanish Civil War, Mexicans are not silent and pathetic victims, like they always are in the work of American scholars, but people with agency and a mind of their own. And shockingly, some Mexicans suck, and not because the evil US forced them.

Of course, Ojeda Revah has ideology. Everybody does. But his ideology is one I like because it isn’t stale. Ojeda Revah clearly favors the idea that Spaniards and Latin Americans have a lot more in common than not. I also believe that it’s high time to drop the ancient animosities of the colonial times. When a country hasn’t invaded in a couple of centuries, it’s time to let it go and move on. Hell, I was ready to move on when Russians managed to stay away from Ukraine for two decades. But we know how that turned out.

In short, the book was very unpredictable because the author actually did research and communicated his findings in the book. Unlike so many scholars who don’t research anything and instead spout off SJW slogans for 300 pages.

By the way, this is the first book in exactly 15 years that I will be reviewing for an academic journal, so now I have to say all this but in polite language.

9 thoughts on “Book Notes: Mexico and the Spanish Civil War”

  1. I don’t really understand this post. There is so much work from and on Mexico. Who are you talking about that makes this kind of claim about Mexico? Who are the self-flagellating Mexican scholars you normally read?


    1. I’m comparing this book to the one by Jean Franco I recently read. This is real scholarship while the book by Franco is a recitation of the hoariest platitudes. I’m happy to see that valuable, interesting scholarship exists.


      1. It is really unfair to Mexican scholars and Mexicanists that you are going to claim they all resemble the aspects of this book, by someone in another field, that you don’t like. If you are going to say this is the only good book by a Mexican or a Mexico specialist, you should at least mention some. Otherwise your review will just be an insult to a whole country about which you appear to be quite ignorant.


        1. I was talking about American scholars, not Mexicans. Scholars from the US have, in my view, an obnoxious capacity to make everything about themselves. I’ve written about this a million times.

          The idea that “this is the only good book by a Mexican” is preposterous and does not originate with me.


    1. Of course, what I write on the blog is different from what I will put in the review or in any official communication. This is the whole point of the blog: to say things I’m afraid of saying officially. If I went to work for a school in the coasts, away from the tolerant Midwest, I’d have to delete the blog. Unfortunately. I don’t want to be another Christakis. But I’m very aware that my extremely modest and imperceptible to most form of departure from liberal dogma can only exist in the obscurity I inhabit right now. And that is very sad.


  2. But I guess probably they will just shrug and say hunh, glad she liked the book, wonder where she got these ideas about what scholarship in and on Mexico is like.


    1. My point is precisely that scholarship in Mexico is perfectly fine. It’s in the US that it’s all US-centered.

      In peninsularist studies, it’s the other way round, for some reason. All the best stuff is done here while in Spain it’s not amazing.


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