One of the more tragic and unhappy figures of Mexican history is the subject of this biographical sketch and documentary collection by Rosaura Hernández Rodríguez. Most historical comment on Comonfort has focused upon his activities during the initial stages of the Mexican Reform, when as a hero of the Revolution of Ayutla he became provisional president and made possible the famous Constitution of 1857. He has been severely castigated for his support of the coup d’état which overthrew this constitution and set the stage for the disastrous War of the Reform.

This book is an attempt to provide a fuller and more balanced picture of this patriotic and dedicated man. The first part of the work is a brief biographical outline which separately traces Comonfort’s political and military careers. Since these two facets of his life are inseparable, there is some redundancy. The major theme of the biographical study is an emphasis upon Comonfort as a member, then as a leader, of the moderate Liberal group. Controversial points of the presidential administration are deemphasized, and the positive accomplishments of the regime in such areas as education, commercial affairs, and efficient administration are stressed. A proportionately large part of the work is devoted to an account of Comonfort’s activities fighting the French invaders after his return from exile in 1861.

About two-thirds of the book is devoted to a collection of documents which, arranged in chronological order, trace the career of Ignacio Comonfort. The bulk of these papers were taken from the García Collection at the University of Texas Library in Austin, Texas, but these were copiously supplemented with others from the Defense and Treasury archives in Mexico City. Records and correspondence from the latter two sources are particularly valuable in filling in details of Comonfort’s career during the final years of his life when he was attempting to vindicate himself by fighting the French invaders. A fourth source of documentation apparently was not consulted. It is the large collection of correspondence between Comonfort and Santiago Vidaurri in the Archivo General del Estado in Monterrey, N.L.

Probably limitations of space restricted the documents included to those considered to be significant. In any such choice the frame of reference of the author is apparent, but this does not take away from the quality of the selection. Few documents of major importance were eliminated.

Curiously only one letter from Comonfort to his daughters was included; yet there are several others which describe the period of his exile. One in particular is both interesting and significant, detailing the dangerous maneuvering necessary to cross the Rio Grande and reenter the country in 1861.

In summary, the volume is a valuable though incomplete contribution to the scholarship of the early Reform Period. The study of Comonfort’s influence and that of the moderate Liberals upon that movement has yet to appear in print. Whoever undertakes the task will be deeply indebted to Rosaura Hernández for the significant points made in her biographical study and particularly for the availability of the documents collected in this volume.