Although the monarchist conspiracy headed by Mariano Paredes in 1845 was only one of many in this period and was short-lived, this well-documented monograph provides new insight into the factions, actors, and issues which dominated Mexico after independence. The result is a multidimensional picture, involving more than just Mexicans and ultimately affecting the balance of power in the Western Hemisphere.

While other general works on Mexican history or the Mexican-American War mention this attempt to establish a monarchy in Mexico, Soto explores the plot and its denouement in detail. Relying on personal papers, diplomatic correspondence, congressional reports and contemporary periodicals, he describes the roots of the conspiracy, including the decisive role of Spain and its ambassador, the overthrow of President Herrera, the role of Alamán and other conservatives, the acquiescence of England and France, the tactics of the liberal opposition, the impending war crisis, the vacillation of Paredes, and the overthrow of his government.

Contrary to the liberal version that monarchists were traitors and opportunists, Soto suggests that monarchy was a viable alternative, capable of providing stability as well as uniting the country and gaining European support in the imminent conflict with the United States. But he also establishes that the participation of the church, the army, and wealthy reactionaries was self-serving and that their attempt to install a European prince undermined the war effort against the United States. It also opened the door for the return of Santa Anna, and Mexico was left to fight the war alone.

Soto, in a final section, discusses why historians on both sides of the border have neglected this slice of Mexican history or have ignored the role of Spain in the conspiracy. After pointing out that the experiences of 1845-46 would be repeated two decades later, he notes that Juárez and Díaz adopted centralism in order to unite and govern the country.