There are few historical events like a presidential assassination to attract readers and carry a narrative. Such is the case for Robert Weis's new book, For Christ and Country, a focused, carefully crafted examination of urban Catholic militancy in twentieth-century Mexico couched as the contextual backdrop of José de León Toral's murder of Álvaro Obregón on July 17, 1928. Employing clear, nimble prose, Weis succeeds admirably in sketching the deeper processes, social dynamics, and triggering events that inspired an unremarkable, decidedly churchy young man who could barely handle a firearm to shoot the revolution's reigning strongman and embrace certain death.

For Christ and Country is, in many ways, exemplary: by embracing brevity and restraint, it makes a crucial facet of a rather complex period quickly accessible and understandable. Weis does not attempt to explain the entire church-state conflict that roiled Mexico....

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