A compelling book on Mexico, history and more
It’s rare that I become so absorbed in a work of history that I gobble the book up. But I’ve become absorbed in The Life and Times of Mexico, by Early Shorris, an American who has a fascinating depth of understanding of Mexican history and has had friends at all levels of Mexican society, all over the country.
There’s an awful lot of tragedy and death in any country’s history, and I’ve known enough about that aspect of Mexico’s history that I almost didn’t pick this book up when I saw it on the new book shelf of our local public library. But I did pick it up, and I have been saying, “Aha!” in every chapter. For example, it’s widely known that in the Mayan culture, time was a central concept. Shorris brings this forward to here and now. Here’s a quote:
Wars between the Maya forces were based on issues related to time. Entire city-states engaged in war and destroyed one another over questions of time all through the history of pre-Hispanic Mexico. And battles over time have not ended but continue in other forms in Mexico, reminders of the long shadows of history, the genes of culture.
The mayor of Mexico City, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and President Vicente Fox differed over the use of daylight savings time. As a result, all Mexico except Mexico City operated on daylight savings time. The argument over the control of time in Mexico City led to neighbors, businesses, and governement bureaus choosing different versions of the correct hours. Leftists and rightists set their watches to different times. It was both ridiculous and chaotic… Eventually the Mexican Supreme Court brought the left-of-center party (PRD) into conformance with the rest of the country.
This sort of tale is woven through the book. I highly recommend The Life and Times of Mexico, for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the historical contemporary forces in Mexico. I have had to skim over some of the military sections as a bit much for me, but even in them, I’ve learned useful things. Shorris has also written Under the Fifth Sun: A Novel of Pancho Villa and edited In the Language of Kings: An Anthology of Mesoamerican Literature, Pre-Columbian to the Present
Here is the book I read at Amazon: