These three books were published jointly by the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social and two institutions that deal with the management of water in Mexico, The last title is the translation from English of Clifton Kroeber’s Man, Land, and Water: Mexico’s Farmlands Irrigation Policies, 1885-1911, which was first published in 1983, Kroeber's book serves as a particularly appropriate introduction to the other volumes, because he documents some of the first state-sponsored interventions in irrigation management and the increasing role of government in the allocation of water during the Porfiriato.
The other two volumes are the result of a contest launched in 1994 for manuscripts dealing with the historical study of the Mexican water question. The organizers established two categories: works by academics, and works by nonacademics with practical experience in the field, Ignacio Gómez Zepeda won the contest; the essays of the two runners-up, José P, Arreguín Mañón and Ana Terán, were published in one volume.
All three of these contributions are accounts of personal work experiences in managing irrigation and drainage in Mexico, Although Arreguín Mañón began his professional life in Mexico City, most of the experiences recounted deal with the countryside in many regions of the nation. They document the careers of three individuals, along with many personal asides and even quite a number of humorous anecdotes. Although their stories center on participation in bureaucracies that deal with water-related problems, the authors actually do not dwell on this aspect of their experiences at great length. They do explain some of the technical aspects of their work, but they are far more interested in the bureaucratic battles between different factions and the path toward advancement.
These accounts would be particularly interesting to scholars who study the politics of the Mexican bureaucracy. Apart from this aspect, there are some amusing passages —such as Arreguín Mañón’s description of his office —but these are funny mostly because they seem so incongruous.