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Friday, May 01, 2009

Department of Book Reports: Gods Gachupines and Gringos: A People's History of Mexico

For readers like me, who love history, yet have no expertise on many areas, Richard Grabman's Gods Gachupines and Gringos: A People's History of Mexico (Editorial Mazatlan $24.95) is one of those books that are just great. Told in a chatty, conversational, and anecdotal style, Grabman presents the wide array of Mexican history, from the Pre-Columbian Indian empires, through the conquest and colonial Mexico, to the revolt against the Spanish, independence, the years of Santa Anna and the wars against the Americans, Maximilian, onto the Revolution and Zapata and Villa, and finally more recent times. It is as colorful history as one can find.

Grabman offers an explanation of the title. Many interpret Gringo to be a perjorative term, which it can be if attached to an insulting adjective. But in normal conversation it merely means a non-Spanish speaking foreigner. It is derived from the Spanish for "Greek". After the fall of Constantinople to the Turks, many Greeks moved to Spain. Think of the Spanish artist, El Greco...the Greek. Gachupine was a name for the over-bearing Spanish overlords of colonial times, and still refers to "foreign Spanish speaking twit(s)".

And that is important. Grabman attempts to see a Mexico without the "white lens" of many writers. There is the multi-cultural Mexico that is often neglected and ignored. There are, of course, the Indian and Spanish influence; but there is also the influences of the Chinese, the Africans, Germans, and, yes, the Americans.

The book is not in wide distribution, but Jackson Street Books can provide copies. Or ask your local independent bookstore to order it for you. And old friend, Nezua, provides the art for this tome.

2 comments:

  1. Seattle D:

    Whaddarya, some-kinda-commie-pinko-Hugo-Chavez-hand-shaking-America-Hating-Jeremiah-Wright-loving-sorta-brown-sorta-Muslim-girly-boy like that Barry Hussein Obama?

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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  2. If true-blue (meaning "white") Americans read it, isn't there a chance they'll get infected with Teh Brown? And start and understanding them people, and maybe even liking them a little bit? Because hating people who are different to you is a traditional American value. Let's not disrupt that.

    (Don't get me wrong -- I like MeXXXicans just fine as long as they stay where they belong, in the restaurants and on their side of the Rio del Norte. Just as I like a certain other kind of people whose name I dare not speak, as long as they stay where they belong. You know, with the coats, under the clothes hangers, behind the door? I bet there's books about them, too.)

    ReplyDelete

We'll try dumping haloscan and see how it works.