John Tutino has written a highly ambitious and provocative book to which it is impossible to do justice, either in praise or critical encounter, in a short review. The book has much to tell us about Mexican colonial and world history, even if it does not manage entirely to convince in all of its vast claims (“vast” being one of the author’s favorite words, along with “soaring,” “complex,” and “diverse,” so that descriptors and superlatives sometimes stand in for analysis and evidence). The main thesis is that the Bajío, a late- settled region in Mexico’s near north anchored by the commercial city of Querétaro and the great mining center of Guanajuato, became the motor of world capitalism by the mid- eighteenth century or so. The region’s influence extended to what Tutino calls “Spanish North America,” stretching from the Bajío into the distant reaches...

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