For decades, historians of the US-Mexican War have blamed Mexico's devastating loss on its lack of political unity and national identity. In his social and cultural study The Dead March: A History of the Mexican-American War, Peter Guardino argues that this thesis is incorrect. Delving deep into sources from both warring nations, he instead posits that the American victory was largely due to the numerous historical, environmental, religious, and political factors that gave the United States a clear economic advantage over Mexico.

Guardino's study is not merely an economic analysis of 1840s North America. Using a transnational, comparative approach, he demonstrates that Mexicans did, in fact, have a cohesive national identity. Nonetheless, a number of unique social and economic challenges plagued the Mexican military. Unlike in the United States, conscription into the army in Mexico could send a soldier's family into...

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