The author stresses the interrelation of countryside and city, much as Eric Van Young has recently done in the case of Guadalajara, with perhaps the difference that Mexico City merchant-financiers exercised a greater influence in Querétaro than in Guadalajara. Even so, Querétaro rose in its own right, its chief claim to fame the woolen textile industry. John Super’s monograph follows from two articles on Querétaro society and economy published in 1976. The present work, which draws in part on D. A. Brading’s studies of Guanajuato, complements other recent historical writings on the Mexican regions in the colonial period. Its sources are predominantly archival, drawn in the main from the microfilm collection of provincial documentation at the Mexico City Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia and from the ramos of the Archivo General de la Nación. The bibliography is useful rather than comprehensive. The author studies patterns of land usage and ownership, the value of rural properties, and the composition of the labor force. His study of the woolen industry attempts to place the evolution of Querétaro within its Mexican and imperial context. Useful conclusions result. Although from the first, the eastern Bajío had been a prime food producer, only after the mid-seventeenth century did agricultural production overtake livestock raising in value. Even so, at the end of the eighteenth century, more than half the region’s population lived in cities. As Brading has also argued, there was a rapid turnover in landownership, irrespective of heavy mortgages. In Querétaro, this did not necessarily signify the entry of new types of owners or new cash inflows. The instability of property ownership, even of textile workshops, and the diversity of economic activities in the province prevented the emergence of a homogeneous manufacturing group in Querétaro. Both before and after 1650, landed proprietors, whether livestock-owners or arable producers, were frequently also merchants and manufacturers.

Although Super states at the end of the book that from the 1750s greater tensions could be discerned both in the city and the countryside, and that a sharper distinction existed between creoles and peninsulares by the 1790s, little, if any, attempt is made to use the rich data here presented to explain why the Bajío became a major center of insurrection in the 1810s. Perhaps the author intends to deal with this at a later date. As it stands, the book leaves us with a frustrating sensation of unfulfillment. In common with so many previous studies in this genre, the reader derives the impression that Mexican history withered away some time at the end of 1809. The result is that this study finishes with a whimper, whereas in the year of its terminal point, Mexican history exploded with a bang.