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A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and Its War with the United States

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  225 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
The war that was fought between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 was a major event in the history of both countries: it cost Mexico half of its national territory, opened western North America to U.S. expansion, and brought to the surface a host of tensions that led to devastating civil wars in both countries. Among generations of Latin Americans, it helped t ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 15th 2007 by Hill and Wang (first published 2007)
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Dec 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: History Buffs
Wow, read several good books concerning the Mexican American War but really we grow tired of the military successes, this book looks at this was from a sociology standpoint. It compares the differences in colonization between UK and Spain. This I this book to be simply fascinating, it is a short read, passed on to my wife who has same interests and she was very delighted to see another way to analyze and present history.

Jul 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
very interesting book that shows the precedence behind america' effed up foriegn policy.
Lauren Albert
I know little about Mexican history so his discussion of it was especially interesting to me. Henderson explains why and how Mexico and the U.S. were different at the time of the war. He explains their differing colonial experiences and their different racial and cultural situations. The reader learns why the issue of slavery came into play (Mexico had already banned the slave trade) and why the U.S. insisted on pushing the boundary of Texas further into Mexican territory even though the extra a ...more
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Very readable non-fiction. I was flabbergasted at all I didn't know about Mexican history (and American history regarding Manifest Destiny).
Feb 14, 2009 rated it liked it
A nice, concise overview of the factors that brought the United States and Mexico to war in 1846. While I would have appreciated more emphasis on the war itself, Henderson's thesis is that the various disparities existing between the two countries made Mexico's defeat inevitable, so it's understandable that the book wouldn't treat the military aspects of the conflict in much detail. A little more problematic is the first chapter, which draws too stark a contrast between a cohesive, dynamic, well ...more
Tom Hastings
Dec 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
The Mexican/American War.
Danny Hensel
Mar 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Read for a class on the history of U.S. and Mexico.

Not a challenging read, and it seems fairly comprehensive, but I wish Henderson strayed from simply a faithful catalogue of all the events of the conflict and instead painted vivid portrayals of the characters contained therein. I want to know so much more about Santa Anna or Stephen F. Austin.
Apr 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Timothy Henderson's A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and its War with the United States (2007) is a thoroughly enjoyable account of the events leading up to, and through, the 1846-1848 war. It is written for a general audience, and he does a great job of explaining complex situations in a really engaging manner.

The complexity lies in bringing together the different strands of Mexican political turmoil (and the ever-present Antonio López de
Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very well-written, the central theme of this book is Mexico's inability to govern itself. Henderson looks not only at the decade before the war, but long before that.Henderson's overall thesis makes sense, but his evidence just seems to get weaker and weaker as the book progresses.

The title itself is somewhat misleading; the actual war of 1846-1848 is not the main subject of the book. Its subject is the history and background of the deterioration in US-Mexican relations that led to the war. So t
Mar 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anybody interested in Texas history
If you grow up in Texas, you spend an entire school year dedicated to Texas history in 7th grade. How much do I remember about Texas history? Well, not much now, so I thought I would brush up on my history lessons by reading this book.

I'm going to be a library geek here for a moment and say that this book can probably be found in your local library's section on the Mexican War of 1846--that is, the U.S.'s war against Mexico for Texas. However, this book gives more than just a basic background of
Feb 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: politicos, history buffs, and Texans
Shelves: non-fiction
I read the Patron Saint of Plagues, a sci fi book set in a future Mexico City that is the capital of a country that covers Latin America and part of the current US. It mentioned that the US had taken Mexico City in the past. I had completely forgotten that. I remember the Alamo, but had forgotten the rest of the war that gave the US Texas, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and parts of Colorado and Wyoming, which was 55% of Mexico's land area.

This is a readable account of the war and what le
Allen Garvin
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Following up after A Wicked War a couple weeks ago, I was interested in the Mexican side of the war, and this looked like the most promising available (on Kindle at least). There's a lot of superb information, too: about two thirds of the book is a history of the decades before the war, and what a depressing history Mexico's early years were: a horribly bloody war of independence that dwarfs the US's in casualties, followed by decades where no president ever managed to complete his term in offic ...more
Having read several books about the Mexican American War but this one by Timothy Henderson takes a whole different path. Instead of simply categorizing the military successes of the United States this book looks into the inherent differences of British vs. Spanish colonization and the economic development of each country as well as the political development post-independence. He covers the convoluted Mexican Revolution very well (nearly 40 years of revolution as opposed to the shorter one in the ...more
The book presents a fresh view of the 1847 war - it looks critically at the developments within Mexico from its independence to the crisis. In following the history of Mexico, its social structure, and its political frailties, the author notes that the border areas with the expansionist US would be a continuing source of worry. The role of Texas would be key for decades: it would spur Anglo settlement in a distant areas; its slaveholding would conflict with Mexico's antislavery views; it would l ...more
Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
An excellent review of what lead to the Mexican-American War, and its aftermath from mainly a Mexican perspective. The war itself is covered in a short section within a broader chapter. Although, this left me wanting more of the history of the progression of the war itself, I started the book fully aware that it was more of a diplomatic history. I found the inner turmoil and complexity of Mexico in the early 19th century shedding light on the true causes and consequences of the Mexican-American ...more
Sep 11, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a useful account of the political landscape in Mexico leading up to the war, and answers the question why the war came about and what made the Mexicans feel they had to fight it (rather than, say, selling a lot of land they couldn't control for money they desperately needed). It also helps explain why Mexico has a long history of instability while its neighbor to the north has been so robust. However, it lacks depth and the author seems uninformed in surprising but small ways (e.g., he s ...more
Daniel Morgan
Aug 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: latin-america
This was a really great book on the first decades of independent Mexico, the Anglo settling of Mexico, the Texan Revolution, the Annexation Crisis and the subsequent Mexican-American war. I especially like that this book goes into details about different political motivations and strategies and diplomatic maneuvering. This book also discusses the attitudes and agenda of all sorts of politicians and political groups, not only Mexico, Texas, and the US but also within different Mexican states, the ...more
In his haste to provide the Mexican point of view for the causes and outcomes of the war, he creates a "straw man" version of American history to serve as the foil to his arguments about the various problems besetting Mexican history and people in the years 1821-1847. His comments oversimplify strong regional, economic, and socio-cultural divisions within the U.S. of the same era, with one prime example being differences on the issue of slavery. Scanning the primary documents and diplomatic corr ...more
Mar 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
A very good discussion of the Mexican War from the Mexican point of view. It starts at the beginnings of Mexican independence and goes up through the aftermath of the war, showing how Mexico's history and political atmosphere resulted in its throwing itself into a war it couldn't win. Given the importance of American-Mexican relations today, this is probably a good book for most Americans to read, since it gives an idea of the roots of the Mexican state and the various conflicts that caused it p ...more
David Cavaco
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: americana
Well-written quick read about the tense history between the United States and it's southern neighbor of Mexico. The book focuses on the internal dyamics of both countries prior to the onset of Texas' annexation to the USA and the broader outbreak of the US-Mexican War of 1847. Most chapters focus on the Mexican side of the wall detailing the country's identity, economic, social, political and governance crisis that led to the loss of its northern provinces as inevitable. History is never boring ...more
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a good overview book of the issues behind the Mexican-American war. It focuses much more on the Mexican side of the issue, which is a good thing, because the scant studying we do on this war in our public schools only shows us the US side. You won't get a very in-depth look at the history behind this war, and you'll get even less information about the war and its battles, but it's worth reading as a primer to what was going on at that time. It's also very easy to read, and can be finishe ...more
Margaret Sankey
Jul 23, 2011 rated it liked it
A particularly fine example of "armies reflect the society that produces them"--in which, the government and army of Mexico, knowing full well it won't go well for them, cannot NOT engage the US in the Mexican War. Also a succinct and elegant review (from the Mexican perspective) of the years leading up to the 1840s, including the Texas Revolt and the many facets of Santa Ana.
Nov 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Americans
A very interesting history of the Mexican-American War, told from the Mexican perspective. Given today's tensions between thhe U.S. and Mexico, I found the book very timely. I enjoyed A Glorious Defeat's insight into Mexican politics and culture, and history of early U.S.-Mexican (and U.S.-Texan-Mexican)relations.
May 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
I liked this book. I had to read it for a freshman history class. Honestly, the topic is not super interesting to me, but I didn't hate the book. Parts were boring, but the book taught me a lot. I hope to reread the book one day to get a better understanding of what the book was trying to prove.
May 01, 2009 rated it liked it
I would rate this more of a 3.5. I was looking for a history of the Mexican-American War, and this gave a good political history of the Mexican side of it, less so on the American side. I appreciated that it wasn't another testosterone-soaked litany of battle maneuvers.
Alberta L. Gallardo
Aug 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Good book. Gave a lot of insight I was unaware of. It truly was a Glorious Defeat. Mexico had no chance with all their dysfunctional entities. Santa Anna kinda reminds me of what Trump would be like as a leader.
Not Henry G
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Probably the best book about the Mexican-American War I have read. Though the war itself is dealt with only in the last chapter, the book's main point in analyzing the history of Mexico and why it lost, rather than just chalking it up to the "America is better duh" idea many take.
May 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Kindly view of Mexico's plight in 1848 war with the US
Jan 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Concise history of the factors leading up to the Mexican-American war. Focuses more on the political than the military.
Doug Mcnair
Apr 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A good short history of the Mexican - American War, as told from the Mexican point of view.
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Tim Henderson has been studying, teaching, and writing about Mexican history for about twenty years. He has just completed a book on the Mexican wars of independence, which will be published in early 2009 by Hill & Wang, and he is currently doing research for a history of Mexican immigration to the United States.
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