Jacinto Huitrón long figured as one of the most sober militants of Mexican anarchism. His life is archetypical of the obreros cultos of his epoch. Born in 1885, in a decent central district of Mexico City, he was the second son of a respectable cobbler from Tecamascalzingo and a sturdy lady from Ixmiquilpan. In 1892 the Huitróns moved to one of the city’s poorer northern districts. There the father died, the mother opened a little store, and Jacinto attended primary school, learning resignation and a love of poetry. After primary school he served as apprentice to a neighboring blacksmith, while negotiating four years at the San Lorenzo Trade School near the city’s center, where he learned drafting, geometry, and natural sciences, but also fell under the charms of philosophy and “declamation.” For his graduating “declamation” in 1900, he chose Díaz Mirón’s ode to Victor Hugo. Its verses made him feel “revolutionary,” he said. He remembered all 148 verses throughout his life.

From 1900 to 1908 he worked in big machine shops in the city, becoming a master fitter and an “assiduous reader” of El Diario del Hogar, El Hijo del Ahuizote, and Regeneratión. In 1909 he took work in the National Railways’ Nonoalco shops, joined Local 5 of the Union de Mecánicos Mexicanos, and united libremente with a young piano teacher. In 1910, with layoffs at Nonoalco, they moved to Puebla. There Jãcinto found work and made connections with the Maderistas. He was at work the day Serdán revolted, but his wife, pregnant by then, went into shock, miscarried, and soon died. Returning to Mexico City, Jacinto worked the next couple of years in several shops. By 1912 he was a member of the city’s most radical anarchist group, which published the newspaper Luz that summer and opened the Casa del Obrero that fall.

From 1912 to 1931 Huitrón remained intensely active in the Mexican labor movement, then retired to run the tiny Federatión Anarquista Mexicana and edit Regeneratión, segunda época. All along he collected historical material on the early movement. On March 28, 1969, the uncelebrated but still grand old man of Mexican anarchism died. His widow safeguarded his manuscript, which now appears as Orígenes e historia. . . .

The book is both an amateur history and a document. Just because it comes loaded with myths, lists, and remarkable revelations routinely told, but disorganized in the telling, it is difficult as history but credible and significant as a document.

Generally, it shows how an obrero culto from Mexico City viewed his country’s modern history, his own movement’s formation, the turbulence of unionization, and finally the accomodation of the 1930s. It is a solid corrective to Salazar’s and Escobedo’s, Araíza’s, and Clark’s histories, and indispensable to serious students of the Mexican labor movement during the Revolution.

Its most notable surprise is how ideologically accomplished Huitrón became in his syndicalism. By 1914 he was no longer repeating romantic phrases but reconceiving Mexican conditions in the new terms. And he judged syndicalist prospects astutely. No one has produced a keener analysis of Revolutionary forces in 1914 than the report Huitrón wrote for the Anarchist Conference in London that summer.

This, however, makes his obscurity on the Casa’s famous pact with Carranza especially frustrating. He gives substantially the same explanation as Salazar and Araíza. But he also gives certain intriguing signs that a struggle for power raged within the Casa in December 1914, that his group emerged in shaky control in January 1915, and dealt with Carranza in February because otherwise they would lose their hold on the Casa to their rivals. Thus, the pact would represent not the Casa’s free entry into politics to choose among Revolutionary factions, but the resolution of a crisis within the Casa. It would not be the first or last such recourse in Mexican labor history. But Huitrón offers grounds only for suspicion, not enough for argumentation.

Unfortunately the book has almost nothing on the 1920s and 1930s or afterwards.