Gilberto López y Rivas’ La guerra del 47 seems to promise more in its subtitle, y la resistencia popular a la ocupación, than it delivers. The first of its three chapters describes Spanish-Mexican anticipation of U.S. expansionism dating from the late eighteenth century, and offers an analysis of the relationship between capitalist development and territorial expansion. Chapter 2 describes social, political, and economic conditions in northern Mexico before that area’s acquisition by the United States in the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. This chapter also describes certain social aspects of the conquest of northern Mexico by United States forces during the war.

Only part of the third chapter relates directly to the important and infrequently studied matter to which the title alludes. Here we find an interesting if not entirely novel theory: Mexico failed more successfully to resist the United States during the war because her ruling class took special care to prevent a popular war of resistance; in order to protect their economic interests, the ruling class chose to rely upon the regular army, which it could control, and to collaborate with the enemy, thus undermining the popular will to resist. In the aftermath of war, the residents of that part of Mexico acquired by the United States were quickly and ruthlessly despoiled of their rights and property, and resisted in the only way they could, through the activities of such bandits as the Californians Joaquín Murieta and Tiburcio Vásquez and, in Texas, of the rebellious adventurer Juan Cortina; these and other such outlaws against Anglo society were folk heroes to their people. The footnotes refer to generally well-known and arbitrarily selected secondary and printed materials.

Thus the book is disappointing, not because of its Marxist interpretation, but because it relates the already familiar in a lucid though repetitious manner, and is interesting only as an example of a certain kind of polemical work, the superficiality of its scholarship matched only by the simplicity of its analysis.