The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, July 1972 - April, 1973

Book Reviews
ROBERT A. CALVERT, Editor
Mexican Revolution: The Constitutionalist Years. By Charles C. Cum-
berland. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1972. Pp. xix+449.
Illustrations, bibliography, index. $lo.)
The late Charles Cumberland has rendered an outstanding service to
students of Latin America with this study of the critical "Constitutional-
ist Years" of the Mexican Revolution. The plot is involved, but the au-
thor's portrayal is detailed and delivered in attractive prose.
The picture that emerges is important. During the preconstitutional
period (1913 to 1917), the military revolution was incalculably destruc-
tive. The failure of the Aguascalientes Convention, a compound result
of "Zapata intransigency, Villa intemperance, and Carranza obstinacy"
(p. 20o9), produced staggering physical and economic costs for Mexico.
Yet, during the phases of expedient violence which followed, precepts
developed regarding the limitation of Church power, land tenure, labor
rights, regulation of natural resources, and government participation in
the national economy. Politics, formerly the privilege of the intellectual
and the elite, was thrust upon leaders with peasant or proletarian back-
grounds-persons of limited education still smarting from the gunsmoke
of military conflict. Destruction of traditional class lines and alteration
of the body politic eventually helped to fashion a nation different from
that of the Diaz era. Interestingly, the goals of those who triumphed
were moderate; while radical political and economic changes, drawing
inspiration from the Constitution of 1917, were long in coming.
Carranza is the dominant figure of the Constitutionalist era but un-
doubtedly the military personalities of some of the other leaders will
survive in these Cumberland portrayals: Villa who often acted without
thinking; Zapata who had neither the imagination nor daring to oper-
ate outside his immediate preserve; Obreg6n who planned, while Villa
charged! As this reviewer interprets the message, those who stood for
national aspirations, namely Carranza and his successors, triumphed.
Villa and Zapata, the spoiler and the isolationist, would not have been
desirable alternatives.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 76, July 1972 - April, 1973. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101202/. Accessed July 24, 2014.