Manuel Lozada, often called the “Tigre de Alica” (a traditional name referring to his native Nayarit in western Mexico), is sometimes compared to Emiliano Zapata. Lozada (1825/28–73), like Zapata, led a significant agrarian-based peasant movement, but Lozada chose the “wrong” sides; linked to the British commercial house, Barron, Forbes and Company, he supported the Conservatives and then the French during the 1850s and 1860s and was finally captured and executed in 1873 while heading a rebellion against the central government of Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada. Consequently, compared to Zapata, Lozada has been largely ignored or at least maligned by most students of Mexican history.
The volume of documents under review is the fourth in a series dedicated to the history of Nayarit. Its editor, Jean Meyer, has authored several works on Lozada. Employing mainly primary materials culled from Tepic, Guadalajara, Mexico City, and London, Meyer divides his compilation into two sections. The first deals with the agrarian conditions in the Nayarit region from 1815 to 1873 that fueled Lozada’s movement. The second, which focuses on Lozada the man and his role as a military and political leader, boasts a detailed chronology and a biography of Lozada, both of which incorporate documents. Useful maps and a bibliography are also included.
A volume of edited documents should contain a well-presented and generous sampling of the primary materials available, provide basic information on and a feel for the subject covered, and evaluate the extant archival sources for further research. Meyer does all three, but not entirely satisfactorily. First, although the documents presented seem to be of significance, the compiler does not indicate what criteria were used to select them, and most are not adequately introduced. Second, the reader does get a sense of Lozada the man and his times, but a short and succinct biography at the beginning of the volume would perhaps have proved useful, especially for the reader not thoroughly familiar with Lozada. Third, Meyer discusses (as opposed to lists) only the archives of Nayarit and even then at no great length. Finally, the lack of an analytical index greatly reduces the utility of the volume for the researcher.
Despite these criticisms, there is little doubt that this collection of documents (along with others in the series, three of which are being prepared by Meyer) will be very useful to the student of Mexican and agrarian history. Clearly, Lozada can no longer take a far back seat to Zapata.