“Culture did not provide the revolution with a nation because the revolution wanted one, but simply because the revolution revealed itself as an almost pure wanting”; “It was the function of the void to elicit an entity able to satiate its own vacuums through the expediency of cultural intervention” (pp. 15, 20).

Disclaiming relevant specialization when a book baffles may be defeatist, but Culture and Revolution frequently baffled this historian. It is perhaps not so much a work of Mexican history as one of critical studies, yet it tells stories about the past, some of them good ones; its characters act in the classic period of revolutionary state building and cultural transformation, 1920–40; it draws on major historians, such as Daniel Cosío Villegas, Enrique Florescano, Gilbert M. Joseph, and Alan Knight; and it is billed as social and political history in the...

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