Yesterday's Train: A Rail Odyssey Through Mexican History

Terry Pindell, Author, Lourdes Ramirez, With Henry Holt & Company $30 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8050-3791-3
Mexico is not Nebraska, Pindell (Making Tracks) remarks at the end of this engrossing journey, but ""[w]hatever the impenetrable barriers to a foreigner's vision... visiting [Mexico] provokes... a renaissance of spirit in the hearts of visitors like me from a world where humanity is too easily chartered and packaged into forms that can be marketed for profit."" He and his native collaborator criss-cross the country along the routes of its rail system from north to south, east to west, through its stunning landscapes, cities, villages and open country, and as they detrain to rest in a hotel, explore a famous site and talk to people, they lay bare in gripping detail the many struggles of the Mexican people as they have endured slavery, miscegenation, revolution and corrupt government over the centuries while still, the authors claim, managing to assert a true ""soul of the nation."" In the authors' view that staunch soul is characterized by its ""unbridled humanity...its transmutation of loss into an intensity of feeling, the earnest desire of every Mexican to make human contact."" It is made visible to visitors mostly in its great creative arts, its festivals and in the lively cacophony of its marketplaces and plazas. The authors discuss the effect of NAFTA on various communities they travel to, and they believe the recent uprisings in Chiapas--which they visit--and elsewhere are evidence of a slow but enduring struggle for equity that has existed since the days of the conquistadors. This is a moving and contagious celebration of a nation whose history, pains, perseverance and values are still among the most foreign and difficult for North Americans to comprehend. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-8050-5598-6
Open Ebook - 377 pages - 978-1-4668-8174-7
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