This study, focusing on the years 1940-1946 and the regime of Manuel Avila Camacho, is part of the multivolume history of the Mexican Revolution under the sponsorship of El Colegio de Mexico. As such it deals with a pivotal era about which little scholarship exists and whose importance remains little-known.
The volume focuses almost exclusively on domestic politics and social problems, with foreign affairs conspicuous by their absence, presumably to be covered in the succeeding volume on the Second World War. This, however, precludes examination of the difficult relations with the United States, the pivotal negotiations between the two nations regarding their long-standing disputes, and other external events which strongly affected the domestic actions of the Avila Camacho government. Whether this separation into two volumes is beneficial or prevents study of the interaction of foreign and domestic policy on each other can be judged only when the subsequent volume makes its appearance. The initial two sections of the present work, dealing with the 1940 election and the general political contours of the era, provide at best a rapid overview, despite occupying half the volume. They serve, for example, to suggest the importance of Vicente Lombardo Toledano during this era and hint at the persistent role of some of the past presidents without, however, dealing with the continuing power of Lázaro Cárdenas. While Manuel Avila Camacho is portrayed as a conciliator between differing political factions and ideological extremes, both his role and the necessity for it remain nebulous. The final section, dealing with what presumably are considered the three most significant issues of this era, examines the change in agrarian policy, the role of the labor unions, and the reorientation of education, providing more depth. Specialists will find this portion to be the most valuable.
Newspapers constitute the principal sources, and though the Mexican press is used widely and effectively, the book consequently focuses on the publicly visible aspects of the regime and the issues and personalities of the era. Reliance on these sources necessarily imposes limits on the depth of analysis possible. Among the archival sources consulted citations from the U.S. State Department files clearly outweigh references to Mexican archival collections—a most interesting ratio in a study by a Mexican historian, doubtless reflecting both the factors of accessibility to such relatively recent documentation in Mexico and the often stated fact that the Yankees had far more time to record the events than the Mexicans who were involved.
Despite these limitations, the work performs a service that will aid interpreters of modern Mexico, though the limits of its sources and approach will indicate the need for further study of the complex factors involved.