Two Weeks Notice: A Latin American Politics Blog: Timothy Henderson’s A Glorious Defeat

Timothy Henderson's A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and its War with the United States (2007) is a thoroughly enjoyable account of the events leading up to, and through, the 1846-1848 war.  It is written for a general audience, and he does a great job of explaining complex situations in a really engaging manner. The complexity lies in bringing together the different strands of Mexican political turmoil (and the ever-present Antonio López de Santa Anna), the politics of Texas, and the politics of the United States.  The U.S. was moving westward and believed Mexico both incapable and not chosen by God to have what became the western United States.  Texas was looking for autonomy from Mexico, became independent, and then annexed to the U.S.  Mexicans watched in disgust, but were too crippled by corruption, factions, and a ragged conscript army to resist.  Finally, the U.S. fabricated a provocation in order to declare war. I found the analysis of Mexican politics to be very compelling, as it acknowledges how Mexican politicians failed to create the sort of political institutions that would keep the country together, even as they faced Americans who disdained them and had no compunction about lying and stealing land.  The most fascinating individual has to be Santa Anna:


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