The author’s purpose in this book is to analyze the political and developmental impact of the recent and ongoing transformation of Mexico into a major oil-exporting country. In spite of its title, the book is about politics rather than oil. The author suggests that future paths of economic and social development will proceed along fundamentally different lines because of the oil. His task is twofold: first, to report what changes have taken place in the economic, social, and political spheres and the effects of those changes on the distribution of the newfound wealth; second, to describe the course of change over the medium and long term.

Two problems seriously reduce the effectiveness of the author’s analysis. The first is that it is probably too early to tell which of the many changes that have taken place will have any lasting significance. The explosive growth of PEMEX has elevated those in charge to levels of power usually enjoyed only by the president of Mexico. It remains to be seen how much of this power PEMEX will retain. In this regard, it would have been very interesting to see a more detailed comparison of the present challenges to the power of the president to previous challenges earlier this century.

The second problem stems directly from the first. Because no one can tell what the future production priorities will be, the crucial issue of future distribution patterns cannot be addressed. The author is quite correct in stating that there is a widespread expectation that things will be different in the future. In general, the topic of income distribution is one that must be approached gingerly, if only to avoid being doctrinaire. But such caution does not justify the substitution of florid language for facts. The author’s unwillingness to venture a more complete specification of the future distribution system before proceeding to his discussion of the future trends in politics and the policy process reduces many of his conclusions to speculation.