References to populism are ubiquitous in public discussion of Latin American politics. Clear analyses and definitions of the concept are harder to find. This volume is a welcome addition to the literature on populism, particularly for those interested in understanding Mexico’s long experience of rule by the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI). The authors generally define populism as a political style based on a leader’s rapport with the common people. Rather than generate a theory of populism, the volume aims to compare the presidencies of Lázaro Cárdenas (1934 – 40) and Luis Echeverría (1970 – 76) to enhance our understanding of their populist styles, their substantive policies and achievements, and their roles in Mexico’s political development.

The editors’ introduction, along with Alan Knight’s essay, explains why the comparison makes sense. Both Cárdenas and Echeverría confronted a perceived crisis of the regime’s legitimacy, and both broke politically with their predecessors. They pursued...

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