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The Life and Times of Mexico

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  125 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
The Life and Times of Mexico is a grand narrative driven by 3,000 years of history: the Indian world, the Spanish invasion, Independence, the 1910 Revolution, the tragic lives of workers in assembly plants along the border, and the experiences of millions of Mexicans who live in the United States. Mexico is seen here as if it were a person, but in the Aztec way; the mind, ...more
Paperback, 780 pages
Published January 17th 2006 by W. W. Norton Company (first published September 1st 2004)
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William Hamman
Jul 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
It's sad to think that I've lived within shouting distance of Mexico my entire life and never really made a systematic effort to learn anything about the country or its people. Or, maybe just as sad, was never made to do so by junior high and high school curricula, even though at the time I would have been happier reading science fiction novels. And yet, the presence of Mexico has always been around me: Mexican culture, language, people, architecture, ways of life. I even spent a summer living a ...more
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
To understand the political climate, culture and the history of Mexico, read this book. Shorris talks about everything relevant to Mexico from the pre-Columbian era up to modern day Mexico. This book helped me dig deeper into my experiences and understanding of Mexico, and in particular, it helped me learn more about Mexico's prominent figures like Pancho Villa, Miguel Hidalgo and Diego Rivera. You can learn a lot about nation's history and values by reading about the people who helped shape the ...more
Dec 10, 2010 rated it liked it
A really great book shows us how everything is great and worth to die for
May 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: John Halliday
Recommended to Bob by: Pat Wiberg
Shelves: latin-america
A cultural history of Mexico that emphasizes the contributions of the great Mesoamerican civilizations and the indigenous people whose cultures have been transformed but not assimilated to a European model. As always Shorris presents this through delightful portraits and interviews.
Three women work to improve an elementary school in a slum in Morelos: "When they walk the alleyway of Las Vias, disdaining the menace of the dogs, chatting with the women who come out to greet them, the three docto
Aug 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: mexiphiles
This book is an awesome blend of political history and ethnograpy. The author appears to have some choice connections to the political and academic intelligentsia of Mexico and his anecdoes and experiences with these people put a face of modesty on some of the power brokers in Mexican society. The organization of the book based upon Aztec mythological concepts and the detailed prose itself is remarkable in its meticulousness and metaphor. I was a bit turned off by the author's distillations of " ...more
Sarah Finch
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written and thought-provoking, Earl Shorris weaves a tapestry of a narrative that spans across centuries of Mexican history. Shorris' book is not a linear history, but one that hops, skips, and jumps through different geographies, cultures, and eras while never leaving the reader scrambling to catch up. There is an almost dreamlike quality to the way he tells the tale, but he skillfully avoids romanticizing the past. I admit I was initially skeptical of reading a history of Mexico wr ...more
Feb 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, politics
This book starts off so well - weaving Mexican history from Olmec to modern day. The story of the people really came alive and made connections that, while some are a stretch, helped create a sense of continuum.

Sadly the second and third sections didn't quite follow up the first. In the short second section Mr Shorris moves towards art in Mexico and its here where he begins to falter. To me, there were too many critiques and not enough tying back to the country.

The last section was better than
Lisa Basile
Aug 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book is the perfect blend of fiction and non-fiction. Though it's labeled "fiction," it is told from the author's perspective in a dreamy lush way. The story tells the tale of Earl—or the narrator—and his relationship with "the old man of prieto." The imagery is stunning, the descriptions of Mexico are vivid and haunting and at times, sad. The respect and honor for telling history and beauty are ever-present, as is the book's hunger for the proper understanding of Mexico's history. It's a b ...more
Nicholas Kohler
Dec 21, 2016 rated it liked it
A frustrating book, too brilliant to put down, but too woolly, repetitive and unfocused not to want to. The first half or so a fabulous historical and cultural overview. Things begin to break down badly around the Mexican revolution; at that point the judicious reader begins to see the merit of the book as something to dip into but not commit to entirely. Certainly well worth the effort, Shorris himself a fascinating character, and at its best his colourful writing a pleasure (elsewhere it grows ...more
Mar 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Massive research involved in this history that weaves together (apparently) disparate historical events in the place that has come to be known as Mexico. Shorris illuminates Aztec decisions that helped lead to the 70 years of PRI and finally the election of Fox in 2000 using both verifiable fact and personal narrative and anecdote. A massive, engaging read. Alas, Shorris did not live to comment on the insecurity and subsequent return of PRI to office.
Dave Clark
Aug 26, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
Earl Shorris takes a very artistic approach to the telling of a complicated history of a complicated people. He provides insight to the culture that is Mexico through his narratives of various people he has known and historical figures. He tries to invoke the voice of a people in his lyrical writing; however, his attempt is at times cumbersome and clumsy because no matter how hard one tries to convey the voice of Mexico it can never be captured by one man, much less a Gringo.
Shan O
May 29, 2008 is currently reading it
I've just started this one after returning from a trip to Arizona and Mexico to learn first-hand about immigration issues. So far, it's fantastic. I'll have more on it later when I've gotten more than 25 pages into it.
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal overview of the history of Mexico up to current times, told through compelling narrative and great insight into how the different civilizations and Spanish rule contributed to current day Mexican culture. Must read if you are visiting Mexico city
Jenni Bradley
Aug 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Must read if you are interested in learning about Mexico past and present, very interesting, well researched and above all easy to read b/c he weaves personal narratives, historical tidbits in with the facts, and also injects his thoughtful POV.
Snooks McDermott
Apr 05, 2008 rated it liked it
I actually like how he weaves historical information with his own experiences, but yeah, sometimes he waxes poetic and I start snoozing. It's also long and dense, so I have to keep renewing it at the library.

Otherwise, an excellent overview of Mexican history and culture.
Jul 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mexican-lit, travel
It's a big book but very comprehensive. some new stuff and some old but well told.
Jan 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: latin_america
A tour de force. If you are a gringo who wants to understand Mexico, and you aren't already Earl Shorris, you ought to read this.
Cheryl Schibley
Jun 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of the most interesting books on the rich history of Mexico. A complicated country. Great read.
May 21, 2008 added it
Very interesting and informative but not linear.
Mar 30, 2016 rated it liked it
Lots and lots of, nothing new! I finally did put it down a hundred pages or so before finishing, but I learned mucho about Mexico, the land that I love.
Sep 17, 2013 rated it liked it
The last quarter or third dragged, but I learned a lot in the rest of the book that I hadn't had any clue about. Mexico's history is... nuts. I now have many books queued up to learn more about it.
Jeffery Lee Radatz
Aug 11, 2016 rated it liked it
I wasn't expecting a book like this...I was looking for more history, like at the beginning, not from an Aztec point of view.
Jul 10, 2011 added it
One of the most comprehensive and best books about Mexico I have read
Conrad Meil
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Oct 04, 2012
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Sep 18, 2012
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May 20, 2012
Dennis Bermudez
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Mar 17, 2014
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Dec 17, 2013
David Pettit
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Aug 24, 2012
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