Good business and family histories in early national Mexico are hard to come by. This account of Estevan de Antuñano is then especially welcome. It is based on extensive and careful archival research as well as on private family papers and artifacts. The result is a thoughtful and intelligent, if inevitably somewhat speculative, portrait of the self-proclaimed father of the modern textile industry in Mexico.

In many ways, Antuñano's story fails to surprise. The Veracruz-born son of a Basque immigrant, and not an especially prosperous one at that, Antuñano ended up in Puebla, where he started out as a cotton broker. Like so many of his generation, Antuñano, who may well have spent some time in England, equated industrialization with prosperity, economic independence, and modernity. Antuñano married above himself and assembled a wide range of political and commercial contacts to finance the...

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