Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico, the United States, and the Road Ahead

Shannon K O'Neil, Author
Shannon O’Neil. Oxford Univ., $27.95 (288p) ISBN 978-01-9-989833-6
Reviewed on: 01/14/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
Hardcover - 260 pages - 978-0-19-989834-3
Paperback - 264 pages - 978-0-19-939000-7
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Nearing the tenth anniversary of NAFTA, relations between the United States and Mexico are as critical, and as difficult, as ever. With immigration reform a long-promised but undelivered goal, and the news from south of the border mostly related to drug trafficking and unending violence, Americans are increasingly suspicious of their neighbor. O’Neil, a senior fellow for Latin American studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that, contrary to popular perception, Mexico is well on its way to building resilient, democratic institutions and a robust economy, and that bilateral ties continue to hold great promise. Though she points out positive indicators in many arenas, she is less sanguine about Mexico’s local police forces and judicial system: “Officers are expected to share extracurricular earnings with their superiors” and “more than 80 percent of crimes are never reported.” A background in international finance gives O’Neil insight into the workings of the economy, and she is at her most persuasive highlighting the importance of cross-border trade and freedom of movement to both countries. She chronicles how, beginning in the 1880s, “the frontier slowly hardened into a border,” precipitating unintended but far-reaching consequences for all. A good political and economic history of modern Mexico, the book will be of interest to those seeking a deeper understanding of the country. Agent: Lisa Adams, Garamond Agency. (Apr.)
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