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

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  291 ratings  ·  46 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. ...more
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
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
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. ...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).
Moises Cordova
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book highly recommended for readers at both sides of Rio Grande.

First it should be clarified that this is not a history about the Mexican-American War but a history about the path that led to the war.

Well written, brief and balanced, the book makes a great job to give clarity to the chaotic history of Mexico in the first half of 19th century.

Besides some details my main complain is that the author mentions the argument that mexican leadership wanted to end the war because they were scared of
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
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
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
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. ...more
Not HG
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. ...more
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.
Hugh Collins
Aug 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
Short, clear and a great story. Yankee imperialism and Mexico idiocy.
Tom Hastings
Dec 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
The Mexican/American War.
Susie Schroeder
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting read from the Mexican point of view of the Mexican War
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.
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
If I am living in Texas, I should have a better appreciation for borderlands history! A compelling narrative of the Mexican-American war from the Mexican perspective.
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This is one of those books that I ordered online thinking it was something entirely different then what it turned out to be. I was wanting a book about the U.S. – Mexico War that took place in the latter half of the 1840s. I was wanting a blow by blow account of the battles, the key figures, the politics, and the overall sentiments from both sides of the conflict. What this book actually is, however, is more of a detailed account of WHY the particular war ever took place. So we read a lot about ...more
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Slim but excellent summary of the causes of war in 1847, and especially valuable in its delineation of Mexican motives. Far from being a mere crusade of nationalist vanity led by the "Mexican Milosevic" Santa Ana, Mexico's position was that of a weak pseudo-nation badly divided by deep race and class inequity, badgered by an undoubtedly superior United States determined to wage war for its expanding empire of land and race. The way out seemed, as Professor Henderson recounts, to fall on the swor ...more
Porter Broyles
Aug 18, 2018 rated it liked it
I was looking forward to reading this book. Having read "This Wicked War" which is about the US politics behind the war and "So Far From God" about the war itself, I was interested in reading about the Mexican perspective on the war.

This books is more of an "Introduction to Mexico History" in the 1800s. The book focuses on the period of 1820 to 1847. You only reach the Mexico-American War in the last chapter of the book. The rest is talking about the history of Mexico as seen by an American.

I th
Deputy Fire Chief
Sep 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has provided some insight into a war that many Americans know little about. This book is not a military history, but focuses on the political climate in Mexico leading up to the war and during the war. This book also discusses some of the issues that are present today based on the war and the realigned border of the United States.

This book opened my eyes to a lot of things that I didn’t know. I spent some time researching some of the major players and it is amazing how things actually
Jack Dixon
Feb 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent perspective from Mexico

This is a very well-written narrative on the U.S. Mexico War. It was very informative and easy to follow. I didn't know the details of the war prior to reading but have a good understanding now. The fact that it is written from Mexico's perspective makes it ever more appealing - especially the many myths debunked that have been told in previous history books.
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.
John II
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I felt that it did a very good job comparing and contrasting the American and Mexican's societies and cultures and the difficulties each one faced on the eve of battle. It really opened my eyes to Mexico's caste system and how huge the chasm was between the haves and have nots. Very enlightening read and it moves quickly considering the subject. ...more
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: documentary
A very concise and direct explanation of the politics leading to the Texas Revolution and the Mexican American War. It's also an insightful look into the history behind why these two countries are as they are today. I definitely recommend this as a primer to the history of international relations in the Americas. Good, quick read! ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I liked this book. It taught me a lot about Mexican politics at the time, and the Mexican point of view regarding the US-Mex. war.
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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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