- Education

Four Must-Read History Books About Mexico

In teaching Mexican history, it is integral to select books that present a concise and comprehensive depiction of events, places, and historical figures. A proper syllabus will contain events depicting the Spanish Conquest, as well as literature detailing the tumultuous events of the country throughout the Nineteenth, and Twentieth Centuries. It is also important to ensure that there is also a depiction of the cultural life of the country, including the viewpoints of its most influential painters, writers, and thinkers. Diego Ruiz Durán enjoys reading about Mexico’s history. 

The first recommendation for reading in this syllabus is ‘The Conquest of New Spain’ written by Bernal Diaz Del Castillo. Transcribed and translated from a soldier in the army of the Conquistadors, this book depicts the events from the initial landing of the Spaniards in New Spain in 1520 to the conquest of the Aztecs. This book ranks among one of the most in depth resources that can be utilized in understanding the Spanish Conquest for a beginning to intermediate student.

In addition, one can also find interesting to read ‘The Broken Spears: An Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico’, by Miguel Leon-Portilla. Unlike other books on the subject, ‘The Broken Spears’ is written from an indigenous viewpoint, collecting accounts from Native Aztec peoples. These accounts serve to present a more balanced description of the Spanish Conquest, and the native perspective of the events as they occurred. One would find it most beneficial to read both the above book and this one for comparison purposes during a study of the Spanish Invasion.

Another important book a student, is ‘The Life and Times of Mexico’, by Earl Shorris. This text covers the prehistory of the country, the Spanish Conquest, Mexican Independence, and the 1910 revolution, covering a scope of over three thousand years of history in total. One would find this work written from a Mexican viewpoint, and includes a broad scope in it’s coverage of the most important events all the way to the modern day. In addition, it also includes in-depth coverage of Mexican artisans, thinkers, and poets, detailing their experiences.

One can also find recommended for a student of Mexican History to read ‘Mexico: A Biography of Power’ by Enrique Krauze. This book describes Mexican events from 1810 through 1996, and details the events of Mexican Independence, through the Revolutionary era, onto it’s present day status as a modern state. This is one of the definitive works for understanding the formation of the modern day state, as it covers the influential figures of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

These four books that Diego Ruiz Durán enjoys are present a balanced picture of the Mexican experience from it’s beginnings, to it’s modern day status. It is important to understand these influences and cultural histories, as well as learn about the people and events that have made this country into the modern state it is today. One would be best able to teach a comprehensive syllabus of Mexican histories through presenting different viewpoints to the student or casual reader.