The historiography of midcentury Mexico is a burgeoning field, and Dictablanda: Politics, Work, and Culture in Mexico, 1938–1968, edited by Paul Gillingham and Benjamin T. Smith, is a welcome addition to the scholarship. Much of the new literature addresses the question of how we explain the Partido Revolucionario Institucional's (PRI) long rule. The editors' answer: as “soft authoritarianism” and as “dictablanda.” The volume has an introduction by Gillingham and Smith, a preface by Gillingham, final comments by Jeffrey W. Rubin, and 16 chapters, mostly by historians, organized into 3 parts: “High and Low Politics,” “Work and Resource Regulation,” and “Culture and Ideology.” The case studies help to round out our understanding of these decades. This short review focuses on a selection from each part.

The chapters in the first part analyze the formal political sphere, with especially good examinations...

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