This collection of studies in Mexican economic history is a welcome addition to the literature, and will be of particular interest to those who teach the nineteenth century. The volume brings together ten key contributions to the field that originally appeared in Historia Mexicana between 1955 and 1989. The majority of the essays summarize pathbreaking research published in widely scattered places and frequently unavailable outside large research libraries.

Although presented in chronological order, the essays fall easily into three thematic groups for review here. Half of them treat topics in Mexican financial history, ranging from D. C. M. Platt’s study of foreign investment in newly independent Mexico to Marcello Carmagnani’s assessment of the relationship between Liberal doctrine and financial strategies from 1857 to 1911, and E. Richard Downes’s interpretation of U.S. involvement in the petroleum sector in the late 1940s. Robert Potash reviews his own findings on the Banco de Avío, Mexico’s first experiment with development banking. Robin King examines Mexico’s 1933 proposal of a Latin American debt moratorium with reference to the debt crisis of the 1980s.

Three excellent pieces focus on social aspects of Mexico’s late nineteenth-century experience. John Coatsworth’s essay on the production of staple grains is typical of his important research on the period: it presents original conclusions while providing a thorough critique of primary sources and past methodology. Guadalupe Nava describes workers and wages in the mining sector, and Mark Wasserman gives a taste of his groundbreaking studies of Chihuahuan society on the eve of the Revolution.

Two selections explore different aspects of the textile industry. Dawn Keremitsis’ careful study of cotton textile production sheds light on a crucial period in the industry’s development; the impact of the U.S. civil war on Mexican textile exports is Thomas D. Schoonover’s focus. These studies paved the way for a variety of later approaches, ranging from Richard J. Salvucci’s obraje study to Stephen H. Haber’s comparative work on the financing of textile production in Latin America.

Some readers may find the title of the volume misleading. Only two of the ten articles take up twentieth-century topics; neither is a synthetic treatment, and neither proceeds beyond the early 1950s. In sum, however, this volume provides a solid selection of classics for students of nineteenth-century economic change. Carlos Marichal’s informative introduction places the selections in historiographical context and indicates directions for further research. Because the scholarship represented here has served as the point of departure for so much subsequent research in Mexican and Latin American history, this book will be frequently assigned in graduate seminars and consulted as a reference by a wide array of Latin Americanist scholars.