La Capital: The Biography of Mexico City

Jonathan Kandell, Author Random House (NY) $24.95 (640p) ISBN 978-0-394-54069-6
Kandell's panoramic, compelling chronicle of Mexico City is in large measure a history of Mexico itself. The Spanish colonizers dreamt they would impose two separate ``republics''Spanish and Indianbut from the ashes of Herman Cortes's conquest rose a volatile, multiracial society. After creoles threw off Spanish rule in 1821 and won Mexico's independence, a new elite of military officials and entrepreneurs arose. Corruption, favoritism and betrayal of the common people by their leaders has been the norm ever since, according to Kandell, who was raised in Mexico City, was a New York Times correspondent there and is the author of Passage Through El Dorado. He carries the story right up to the recent succession of disgraced presidents and the new bureaucracy's co-option of artists and intellectuals. This rich, 704-page portrait limns near-psychotic Montezuma, venal Santa Anna, self-mythologizing Diego Rivera and many others against a backdrop of political turmoil and violence. Photos. History Book Club alternate. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1988
Release date: 11/01/1988
Paperback - 640 pages - 978-0-8050-1267-5
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