This broad synthetic overview intentionally sets Mexico's history from 1750 to 1850 within the scope of more recent times. It creates an interpretive polarity by positing modernization and decolonization as interlocutors of Mexican history. The emphasis is clearly on socioeconomic trends, achievements, and deficiencies, with a frequent contemplation of their relation to the political system, its modifications, and the evolving power structure. Eric Van Young carefully evaluates national life in terms of effective national sovereignty and social inclusion—or lack thereof, since Mexico's very diverse population reflects its colonial past. The actions of foreign powers are frequently analyzed, and a recurring glance is directed at lingering privileges or social and racial prejudices derived from the past or produced by more recent developments.

Van Young is an accomplished analyst of Mexican history, and this work reflects, and artfully culls materials from, his previous studies and his archival and historiographical knowledge. His ease...

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