The Underdogs
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The Underdogs

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  3,079 ratings  ·  164 reviews
Written in 1915 and first published in a small El Paso paper, LOS DE ABAJO has gained universal recognition as the greatest novel of the Mexican Revolution. It is one of the first novels in which political revolution as the means of freedom and self-determination was addressed as a serious matter.
Paperback, 136 pages
Published August 25th 2008 by Tutis Digital Pub (first published 1916)
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Alejandro
This review is bilingual. First, you will find the English version and after that one, you will find the Spanish version.

I had to read this novel as part of the Spanish program in high school, in my country, Costa Rica. Los de Abajo that it can be translated as "The ones from bellow". I think it's a wordgame, since indeed the main characters are from the low levels of society but also, most of them are soldiers that supposed to be very brave, so they have a lot "balls" that indeed they can be fo...more
Katsumi
First of all, this is NOT a history book. If you're interested in learning about the Mexican Revolution pick up a history book.
Second of all, you didn't get the point. It's not about the life of rural Mexico, or how people lived, or how they lost their ideals. It's about joining "la bola" the mass of people fighting for no particular reason. The "campesinos" didn't really join the fight because they believed they were getting land and freedom, they joined because they believed in their leaders,...more
Erika
Este maravilloso libro cuenta la vida de Demetrio Macias y su grupo de amigos durante la Revolución Mexicana, es una historia tan sencilla pero tan bien hecha que no es de extrañar que en un momento te haga reír y al otro te haga sentir un nudo en el estomago.

El uso del lenguaje es impecable, puedes oír a los personajes hablando en tu cabeza con la jerga de aquellos tiempos, imaginarte los paisajes por los que van avanzando, la gente que encuentran a su paso y te hace amar u odiar a sus persona...more
Shane Westfall
I loved reading this one! Several of the criticisms mentioned in other reviews are valid, yet where I felt Azuela excelled was in illustrating the "gray". No saintly protagonists nor sinister bad guys to be found...simply a portrait of real humans embroiled in a conflict where perhaps the only moral difference between the two parties depends on whom one is cheering for. Sure, Cervantes' ride off into the mercantile business seemed a bit of a stretch, but then no more so than Shakespeare relying...more
Laura

The Underdogs really reminded me of Blood Meridian by Cormack McCarthy. I think that there are several reasons for that. First, the story is very violent, but the violence is part of the environment. It is not gratuitous. The violence is simply as much a part of the environment as the blood red sunsets and the Sierra.

Another aspect of this book that reminds me of McCarthy's western novels is the terseness of the dialog. These characters are actually more talkative than the ones in McCarthy's wo...more
Mike
Next year marks the centennial of the publication of Mariano Azuela's "The Underdogs," often said to be "the greatest novel" of the Mexican Revolution of 20 November 1910. It may be, though it isn't a sweeping and detailed account of that fierce but doomed uprising. Rather, it's a slim book of brief segments that look at the revolution in intimate terms by focusing on the innocence, confusion, courage and eventual disillusionment of Demetrio Macias, an illiterate Indian who like other disenfranc...more
Alberto Jacobo Baruqui
Esta es sin duda la mejor obra de Mariano Azuela, quien formó parte del grupo de "Los Dorados". "Los de Abajo" tiene la cercanía al movimiento de la Revolución con unos ojos analíticos, valientes y sinceros. Se comparten sin miedo las vivencias y esclarece algunas de las barbaries que existene en todas los movimientos de su clase, donde casi siempre se termina una injusticia para dar entrada a una distinta pero con nombres y esquemas diferentes.
Dentro del Clan de Francisco "Pancho" Villa, Azuel...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
A novel of the Mexican revolution of 1910.

As in most revolutions, this was supposed to have been staged in order to topple a dictatorship and to gain freedom from tyranny. The book, however, illustrates that not all of those who take part in a revolution know what they are revolting for. Some "freedom fighters" take to the hills with their own personal agenda, some of them even fugitives from the law themselves.

Survivors of the revolution, assuming they emerge therefrom victorious, would metamor...more
Mauricio
En estos días releí "Los de abajo". Y no hay punto de comparación entre cómo la leí hace años y cómo la he leído hoy. Para empezar uno piensa de inmediato en una novela anterior "Andrés Pérez, maderista," que pese a tratar un tema de la Revolución está más cerca del tratamiento costumbrista y pseudo realista de las novelas anteriores. Me interesó mucho la segunda parte de Los de abajo, cuando ha triunfado la Revolución y la gente de Demetrio Macías se une a los villistas. Entonces aparecen dos p...more
Bob
A short novel following the progress of a small band of participants in the Mexican Revolution years of 1910-15. In the thread of my recent reading, this book nicely continues one of the themes of The Poisonwood Bible; the "people" (peasants, rural villagers, i.e. the poorest and least advantaged) rarely have much of a grasp on what the revolution is supposed to mean for them. They have almost nothing, suffer continuous hunger and hardship, and all too often that's what they still have after the...more
Mike Dunne
Next year marks the centennial of the publication of Mariano Azuela's "The Underdogs," often said to be "the greatest novel" of the Mexican Revolution of 20 November 1910. It may be, though it isn't a sweeping and detailed account of that fierce but doomed uprising. Rather, it's a slim book of brief segments that look at the revolution in intimate terms by focusing on the innocence, confusion, courage and eventual disillusionment of Demetrio Macias, an illiterate Indian who like other disenfranc...more
Evelyn
While I can't honestly say that I enjoyed reading this book, I do understand and appreciate its literary significance. Los de abajo paints a realistic picture of what the Mexican Revolution was like on the ground for the guerrilla fighters, combining the valiant rhetoric of the Cause with the dry reality of an endless struggle. Even 100 years after the start of the Revolution, reading this novel helped make sense of some of the contemporary issues in today's Mexico. The open-ended nature of the...more
Mary Clare
After considering the chaotic nature of the Mexican Revolution and the succession of one ruler after another throughout the early twentieth century, this novel provides a great fictional story that molds into this history. The reader is able to experience the battles and struggles with the multitude of characters. Azuela uses colloquial language that can make the read more difficult, but if using the Catedra edition, the footnotes provide excellent background information. In summary, this novel...more
Mary Frantz
Los de abajo tells the story of the Mexican Revolution from the perspective of the people. I really enjoyed that the book felt very colloquial, as if I were experiencing the revolution first hand. It was also interesting to read about influential characters of the revolution from a first hand perspective. Azuela also painted the revolution as an organic and essential element of the Mexican culture of the time period. It felt as if the rebels were working to achieve a majestic and idolized revolu...more
Happy Carlock
Mariano Azuela intricately tells the story of the Mexican Revolution from the perspective of the revolutionaries, framing the entire war in terms of the disillusionment and hypocrisy it stirred in Mexican society. His rich dialogue and profound use of metaphors, personification, hyperboles, and other literary techniques not only serve to describe the revolution, but also distinguish the book itself as revolutionary. On several accounts, characters in the book including Demetrio Macias' wife and...more
Janey Fugate
At times while reading Los de Abajo I wasn't sure if what has happening was just plain weird or if I was misunderstanding the scene. For example, a scene I had to read twice was when Demetrio and company meets el guero Margarito and joins him and la Pintada at a dinner party. At one point, guero Margarito stands up and shoots his reflection in the mirror, shattering the glass and throwing the party into chaos. This scene encapsulates the stark brutality, surprising randomness, and deeper symboli...more
Sophia K-l
I was struck, throughout the whole novel, at the consistent and pervasive uncertainty, not only about the outcome of the revolution but also about what each and every individual was fighting for. This uncertainty, which creates a sense of disunity among what appear to be unified groups, really illustrated to me whole the way in which the Mexicans were lost in regards to their identity in this period. No one really knows what exactly he or she are fighting for; they are motivated, at times, just...more
Callie Deddens
Reading this book without any historical context would take a lot away from an understanding of it. Fortunately, I read the version published by Catedra and thus had the benefit of footnotes which explained discrepancies between Demetrio Macías' assertions about historical occurrences and what actually occurred. From a brief introduction to the important figures in the Mexican Revolution and the explanations in the footnotes, I was able to get an impression of the utter aimlessness of the cause...more
Rocky
Jan 12, 2009 Rocky is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This book was written by a man with first-hand experience of the Mexican Revolution. He explores not only the excitement and idealism behind the revolution but also the disillusionment that followed. This is a small but vivid window of social upheaval in Mexico. This edition comes with an engaging introduction by Ana Castillo.
P
Read this for two different undergraduate courses in college: once in Spanish, once in English. Does not really have a plot that connects, makes sense that it was published as a serial in an El Paso newspaper.

Thought I would read it again after spending another five years in Mexico. Maybe I'd have a new perspective? Nope. It's still depressing and illustrates the tough reality of the Mexican Revolution: years of struggle and war to just go from one corrupt government to another.

I suspect that th...more
Miriam Flores
me encanto..con un gran sentido del humor!!
Deanne
Set during the mexican revolution, this tells the story of a band of guerilla fighters who leave their villages to fight.
Antonio Dominguez
An incredible story of savagery and human will, all within the circumstances of the revolution. It pieces together the mosaic of culture, lineage, economical condition and education disparity that characterized Mexico at the turn of the 20th century.
A product of historical events and a creative mind, perhaps a narrative of life experiences.
It evoked fear, disgust, admiration and condemnation as the story took me through the turbulent times of the revolts that took place between 1910 and 1920.
A...more
Taylor
Unfortunately, war stories tend to bore me. I found the book to flow fairly quickly though it seemed to have no direction. This is perhaps exactly what Azuela wanted to portray. The characters' rationale in fighting the government was simply to oppose the government. However, most members of the rebel force are not even sure if there is any reason at all to be fighting. I was saddened by the tragic nature of all the characters, from Demetrio's wife and family at the very beginning to Demetrio hi...more
Pamela
Los de Abajo es una narración meramente Mexicana puesto que nos relata las peripecias de la revolución Mexicana. La gente de abajo, los pobres, desvalidos, menos afortunados ante los adinerados de la época de un régimen discriminatorio.

A través de este relato experimentamos la vida de unos cuantos mexicanos luchadores por su patria amada de una forma muy salvaje, despreocupada, poco estratégica, pero a la final triunfadora por el ímpetu de sus luchadores.

La mueva pavorosa del hambre estaba ya en...more
Donna
I picked this slim novel up in the classics section of a local foreign language bookstore, determined to read more significant novels about people of color. The Underdogs suited my needs exactly. It is very short, having been quickly published in a Mexican newspaper around the middle of the revolution, and tells the story of Demetrio Macías, a Mestizo peasant who, through chance, becomes a soldier and leader in Pancho Villa's army.

The novel is written in a very simplistic tone of voice. I think...more
Yorkshiresoul
Written about events during the Mexican Revolution, this tale follows the exploits of a group of villagers who band together under their local leader Demetrio Macias. The men seemed to have joined the Revolution not out of ideals, but because a side has to be picked, and a poor working man has to be anti-Federal.

Demetrio leads through force of action, but when a Federal deserter, Luis Cervantes, arrives with his city education and, initially at least, his strong sense of ideals for the Revolutio...more
Leslie
This historical novel concerning the Mexican revolution is at times funny, sometimes thought-provoking, very often shocking, and "full of bewildering contrasts and contradictions. It is at times brutal and tender, revolting and beautiful, exhilarating and depressing, aestheticist and journalistic, revolutionary and counterrevolutionary" (from the Appendix of Pellon's translation). The story follows the trails and feats of one man from the sierra who quickly finds himself escalating on the glory...more
Tony
Azuela, Mariano. THE UNDERDOGS: A Novel of the Mexican Revolution. (1915). ***. I found an old paperback copy of this novel published in a Signet Classics Edition in 1962. The novel was originally published in serial version in an El Paso newspaper, and later issued in book form once it was “discovered.” The author, a practising physician in Mexico City, was a participant in the actual fighting during the revolution and, presumable, brings that experience to his book. There is a lot of hype abou...more
Martin Hernandez
Novela de la Revolución Mexicana, basada en las experiencias que vivió el mismo AZUELA como médico militar, y en las anécdotas que escuchó de sus camaradas. Ésta es una novela realista, clásica de la Revolución Mexicana, pero se diferencia de otras obras por la crudeza de su narración, que incluso revela delitos de guerra que cometieron los insurgentes.
Uno de los temas que más me llamó la atención es la ignorancia de muchos de los soldados de la Revolución, que no tenían muy clara la ideología...more
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Mariano Azuela González was a Mexican author and physician, best known for his fictional stories of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. He wrote novels, works for theatre and literary criticism.
More about Mariano Azuela...
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“La revolución beneficia al pobre, al ignorante, al que toda su vida ha sido esclavo, a los infelices que ni siquiera saben que si lo son es porque el rico convierte en oro las lágrimas, el sudor y la sangre de los pobres. || The revolution benefits the poor, the ignorant, who all his life has been a slave, the unfortunate who do not know if they are is because the rich becomes the tears, sweat and blood of the poor in gold.” 4 likes
“¿Será justo abandonar a la patria en estos momentos solemnes en que va a necesitar de toda la abnegación de sus hijos los humildes para que la salven, para que no la dejen caer de nuevo en manos de sus eternos detentadores y verdugos, los caciques?” 3 likes
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