The end of a century is often a time of dire foreboding, and few cities have inspired more apocalyptic visions than Mexico/Tenochtitlan. Yet intimations of disaster also promise future rebirth, and the Mexican people have shown endless patience in raising their capital from the ashes of previous suns. Through both destruction and renewal, this splendid book chronicles the many compelling lives of Mexico City.

This volume is the latest in a series of valuable works—including a cookbook—edited by Manuel Ramos Medina, director of the Centro de Estudios de Historia de México Condumex, the philanthropic foundation of a high-tech company that has become one of Mexico’s finest historical collections. Like previous books dedicated to making the artistic and historical collections of Condumex more widely available to the public, this one includes essays from leading scholars as well as lavish illustrations.

The chapters vary in focus through the centuries according to the...

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