I wasn’t particularly in the market for a book about Mexico, but when I was in Blue Hill Books back in August I noticed that their small history section was about 90 percent composed of books I’d already read and enjoyed. So I figured I would trust their judgment and pick up Julia Preston and Sam Dillon’s Opening Mexico: The Making of a Democracy.
The authors were New York Times reporters in Mexico and as such the book lacks some of the theoretical sophistication you would expect from a historian. It’s also kind of poorly organized, at times taking detours into things that perhaps were important scoops at the time but don’t seem very historically significant. But they’ve taken the very complicated and multifaceted process of Mexican democratization and broken it down in a way that’s both detailed and readable. You come to appreciate that this is really one of the big under-heralded triumphs of our era. Mexico still has all kinds of problems, of course, but you’ve got a nation of 100 million people making a transition to democracy in a peaceful way.