For readers like me, who love history, yet have no expertise on many areas, Richard Grabman's Gods Gachupines and Gringos: A People's History of Mexico (Editorial Mazatlan $24.95) is one of those books that are just great. Told in a chatty, conversational, and anecdotal style, Grabman presents the wide array of Mexican history, from the Pre-Columbian Indian empires, through the conquest and colonial Mexico, to the revolt against the Spanish, independence, the years of Santa Anna and the wars against the Americans, Maximilian, onto the Revolution and Zapata and Villa, and finally more recent times. It is as colorful history as one can find.
Grabman offers an explanation of the title. Many interpret Gringo to be a perjorative term, which it can be if attached to an insulting adjective. But in normal conversation it merely means a non-Spanish speaking foreigner. It is derived from the Spanish for "Greek". After the fall of Constantinople to the Turks, many Greeks moved to Spain. Think of the Spanish artist, El Greco...the Greek. Gachupine was a name for the over-bearing Spanish overlords of colonial times, and still refers to "foreign Spanish speaking twit(s)".
And that is important. Grabman attempts to see a Mexico without the "white lens" of many writers. There is the multi-cultural Mexico that is often neglected and ignored. There are, of course, the Indian and Spanish influence; but there is also the influences of the Chinese, the Africans, Germans, and, yes, the Americans.
The book is not in wide distribution, but Jackson Street Books can provide copies. Or ask your local independent bookstore to order it for you. And old friend, Nezua, provides the art for this tome.
cross-posted from The General's.