In the last twenty years the name of Ricardo Flores Magón, the indomitable anarchist contemporary of Madero, Carranza, and the other greats of the Mexican Revolution, has been gaining in prominence. Today something akin to a Flores Magón cult, analogous on a reduced scale to the Zapata tradition, exists in a segment of Mexico’s intellectual community. It is possible that the composite Mexican revolutionary memory required the tradition of the Warrior Undefiled, and Zapata on his white horse was this noble vision. For intellectuals, however, the projection of the Revolution may need the additional memory of a great ideologue—Flores Magón, who most certainly was a thinker of crystalline clarity and compelling radicalism.

The work under review is hagiography pure and simple. For the reader in search of the finest elements of Flores Magón’s anarchistic humanitarianism, the book has worth. The talented author, with a background as a poet, journalist, and diplomat, rather than as a historian, has skillfully selected from Flores Magón’s writings and has commented upon them in moving prose. For one seeking facts and analysis, however, the material is virtually useless. Factual errors and misrepresentations, some significant, are numerous. The historical context in which Flores Magón acted is virtually ignored. The anarchist’s outstanding qualities are properly stressed, but the uninformed reader would never gather that Flores Magón habitually resorted to lies, deceit, and vengeful attacks on his opponents and indulged in a fanaticism that doomed his movement and his followers. The author has neglected to examine a variety of sources, thus failing to deepen and balance his understanding. A book dealing with a controversial historical figure must have a great deal to offer in order to compensate for the omission of essential facts as well as a penetrating analysis of the principal’s actions. An eloquent rendition of his philosophy, disembodied from his conduct, is insufficient.